|Churchill Downs. Credit: Kentucky Tourism|
It is a highly anticipated race for sports fans and bookies alike as people put both their hearts and their wallets on the table once the horses have been loaded into the starting gate. While I am not much of a horse-racing fan, and I am definitely not one to gamble, I still enjoy tuning in for the big event, mostly to observe the cultural aspect of it all.
This year marks the 137th running of the Derby, and the event continues to captivate audiences worldwide, not just because of the excitement of the race, but also the wonderful traditions that have become iconic over the decades. From the garland of roses and the Twin Spires to the Mint Juleps and Kentucky Oaks, the Derby has become a cherished part of our history. For those of you who are unaware of the details of this timeless celebration, allow me to elaborate.
|Garland of roses. Credit: Kentucky Derby|
The Twin Spires are a landmark in Kentucky. They were built in 1895 atop the racetrack complex and designed by Joseph Dominic Baldez who was recruited to sketch out the new grandstand. Though the spires were not included in the original plan, they were embraced as monuments by all.
As far as cuisine goes, the Kentucky Derby certainly serves up some interesting and classic dishes.
|Mint Julep. Credit: Southerliving.com|
A local creation, Hot Brown is an open sandwich that is made with sliced turkey, crispy bacon, and buttered toast drenched in Mornay sauce--which is like bechamel (bay-shah-MEL) with cheese. It was invented by the chef at the Brown Hotel in the 1920s and has been a staple of the race ever since. Kentucky Burgoo can best be described as a stew, mostly because it has no known origin and there are countless ways to make it. Basically, its consists of a bunch of meat like mutton, beef, pork and chicken, an assortment of corn, potatoes, lima beans, tomatoes, and a range of spices like Worcestershire. Finally, the Kentucky Derby would not be complete without the Derby Pie. It was invented 50 years ago at Melrose Ince in Prospect, Kentucky. The crust is filled with semi-sweet chocolate and English walnuts and topped with whipped cream.
|Derby hat. Credit: Boston.com|
For me, the Kentucky Derby showcases a culture that is completely different from the everyday. When people step onto the premises of Chruchill Downs, they are transported to another time, another world. It is a spectacle that can only be experienced once a year, and then it is gone, pushed to the background until the anticipation builds again next spring, when women can buy a new flashy hat, and men can stir up another minty treat.
Cherish the moment while you have it, because, after all, it is only two minutes from the moment the gates fly open to when the horses cross over the finish line.