Not in our house, but tomorrow, many are the derby pies that will be consumed across the state (and a few more spread across the country and devoured by ex-pats) by men drinking mint juleps and women wearing incredibly fantastic hats (drinking mint juleps). You see, tomorrow is the First Saturday in May, the Running of the Roses, the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, the Kentucky Derby.
I mean, not that we get excited about it or anything.
So far, despite growing up in the state and finally moving back — for a total of some twenty years — I haven’t made it to Louisville for the race a single time. That’s kind of disappointing. Even more disappointing is the fact that I don’t yet have an incredibly fantastic hat.
You don’t believe me about the incredibly fantastic hats? There’s a whole fashion world that revolves around the darned things. Here’s one:
Like I said, incredibly fantastic. I need one.
There’s another aspect of Derby Day that’s important. The food. (Well, and the bourbon of course. This is Kentucky, after all.)
We had hoped to have friends over tomorrow for the race, but weather, work and other circumstances have intervened, so it will just be me and Southern Honey. Despite that, we’ll be feasting in style: pulled chicken barbeque with a bourbon BBQ sauce, corn on the cob, fresh green beans, and fresh strawberries with sugar and whipped cream. I’m also thinking about making quasi-bruschetta with the French bread I bought today for an appetizer during the race. We’ll see how ambitious I feel when post time rolls around.
If I stop and think about it too much, it does seem kind of silly to get so excited about something that literally takes two minutes. One hundred twenty seconds. One-thirtieth of a football game or one-twentieth of a college basketball game.
Of course, if I go much further down that road, it leads me to the horse farms and the horse park. Here in Kentucky, we tend to eat, sleep and breathe horses. They are a way of life, not to mention a massive money-making industry. Of course the state is going to stop for two minutes on Saturday afternoon each year — we love our horses. Even better, that Saturday afternoon gives us a chance to connect with other horse fanatics across the country and sometimes even around the world.
That’s why we’re so looking forward to the World Equestrian Games in September. And why, on the first Saturday in May, we gather in the stands, in the infield, in bars and living rooms to watch a field of twenty impeccably bred, intensely trained thoroughbreds, ridden by jockeys clad in immaculate silks, thunder along one and a half miles of dirt track for two minutes of pure adrenaline. It’s in our blood.
In the meantime, “we’ll sing one song for the old Kentucky home, for the old Kentucky home far away” while we cook our barbeque, our burgoo and our shrimp salad, while we muddle our sugar and mint to be topped with crushed ice and bourbon, while we don our incredibly fantastic hats, and while we belt out the state song and wait with bated breath to see which magnificent athlete will take home the Garland of Roses this year. I love May.