Decadent and Depraved

5 05 2012

Illustration by Ralph Steadman

The South is nothing if not a colorful place. We turn out colorful characters. While we’re proud of our prim and proper sons and daughters, what would the world be without the Hunter S. Thompsons?

Born in Louisville, it was only natural he would cover the 1970 Kentucky Derby with a story that marked the beginning of his infamous Gonzo style of journalism.

Of course, the article is less about the event itself as the cast that arrives each year to celebrate the most exciting minutes in sports. If any of you have been to the Derby, you know that it’s a tale of two levels — the infield and the grandstand.

We all know (and wish to be in) the grandstand. Ladies with hats, gentlemen in their finest. But there is some kind of party that takes place in the (usually muddy) infield.

If you’ve never had the chance to read the classic work, perhaps today before the race would be the perfect time. Then put on your best, pick out a horse, and behave yourself as if you’re in the grandstand, alright?

Tailgating Party Menu

3 09 2010

It’s Game Day, it’s the South. So what’s probably taking place? That’s right — tailgating! Southerners love our football and we love our food, so the natural progression is to combine the two.

We’ve put together a few little party tips here for you, along with a great game day menu, so whether you’re watching the game from your couch, backyard, or at the stadium, these selections are perfect to pack in a basket and eat out of the back of your, well, tailgate.

We’ve stepped the fare up a little with these selections, but we’re guessing if you throw a few burgers on the grill and set out some classic Coca-cola, your guests won’t mind either! We’ve listed plenty of choices here, so choose a couple from each category (your favorites!), and keep it simple for your guests to enjoy.

Starting Line-up

Cream Cheese Clam Dip

Mango Corn Salsa

Veggie tray complete with tomatoes, olives, radishes, carrots, and gherkins

Baked Red Potato Bites

The Star Player

London Broil and Portobello Sandwiches

Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Buffalo Chicken Kickers

Side Lines

Chicken Pesto with Bow Ties

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Tomato Soup Shooters

The Winning Goal

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Butter Cake

Fig Cookies

Concession Stand

Fresh-squeezed Lemonade

Hot Cider

And what else? Why, Sweet Iced Tea, of course!

Dont forget plenty of ice and bottled water to wash it all down and keep hydrated throughout the day!

  • If possible, get to your location early to start the festivities, and scout out the best shady spot for your party.
  • We all know about the South’s official regional bird — the mosquito, so make sure to bring plenty of bug spray if you plan to celebrate into the twilight hours. And if you’ll be sporting the jersey when the sun is shining, wear sunscreen. Red skin clashes with your team colors.
  • Don’t forget to pack your basket with plastic trashbags, a vinyl tablecloth, utensils and cups, paper towels and napkins, charcoal or gas for the grill, any cooking instruments or utensils you might need, and my secret weapon, wet wipes — for those stickier messes.
  • Bring along a few pom-poms and team pennants to decorate and show your team spirit!
  • Galvanized buckets work great to keep your beverages cold, and small buckets make stylish utensil holders.
  • If the game’s an away game and you’ll be cheering from home, pitch a tent in your backyard, and bring out a radio so the fellas can listen to the pre-game show, while still getting the effect of tailgating. Then you can all pile inside to watch the big game with air conditioning blasting and that famous HD, which my husband swears is better than being there.
  • I love this cheat sheet about how many, and what types, of folks to invite to your game day party. GQ recommends six to eight, and at least one with a hometown vested interest in the outcome. In the South, that shouldn’t be hard to find.

Things I THINK I’ll Miss

24 02 2010

I keep saying I feel like I’m moving to a foreign country. It’s not to say I’m not excited. I certainly am. We spent a couple of months in California when husband and I were first married, and it was beautiful and such an adventure! But right now, I’m not in the new things, new places, new folks stage. I’m in the farewell stage. Farewell to my friends, farewell to my first little home with the gorgeous hardwood floors, farewell to all my restaurants and dishes I know and love and crave. (And hello to living in a hotel for a month… Could be an adventure in and of itself — though living in such close quarters with hubby kinda makes me smile.)

So, in the spirit of moping collectively, can I share with y’all some of the things I think I’ll miss? I’m anticipating I’ll be missing so much more, but here’s my top ten list of things I’ll miss about the South. Of course, I’m sure once I get there, I’ll find a whole host of things I didn’t even realize I’d miss.

  • A church on every corner. While sometimes I complain that there’s a lot of churches, and not always a lot of evidence (pointing the finger right back at my human self!), I’ll miss living in the Bible belt.
  • Chick-fil-A. I keep teasing that the first thing I Googled as soon as we found out, was whether or not there was a Chick-fil-A in Monterey. There’s not. So if any of y’all want to overnight be a bag of nuggets and waffle fries, I’m open to that anytime.
  • SEC sports fever. From what I understand, folks don’t name their children after college football stars out there. What’s up with that?
  • This isn’t specific to the South, but I’m REALLY freaking out about not living in the Central or Eastern time zone. I really don’t want to be 3 hours behind when they drop the ball on New Year’s.
  • Heat. Most of y’all will think I’m crazy, but I like to be hot. I’d much rather “glow” than shiver.
  • The Atlantic Ocean. I know the rocky crags of the Pacific beaches are majestic and beautiful, but I still love my pure, flat sandy beaches.
  • Those Southern accents. Mmm, smooth as butter. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll get laughed at a lot for saying “y”all.”
  • Living near my family. Even though we’re already not in the same city, it’s still driving distance. And have I ever mentioned my (former) debilitating fear of planes? Well, I’m just gonna have to get over that if I want to see my Momma!
  • Becky. Speaking of loved ones. I’m going to miss my other blogging-girl half. What y’all may not know is that we literally sit across the office from each other. I can look up from my desk and see her any time I want. While we mostly go about our business and do our own thing, I’ll miss just having her there to say, “Hey, did you see someone commented!” (See, y’all, your comments really do mean a lot to us!
  • Sweet Iced Tea. No, not here… I’ll always have that. I’ll miss that glorious beverage that plagues me with those constant extra 5 lbs. I remember the first time I sat down in a pizza place in San Diego, asked for Sweet Tea, and the lady looked at me, so confused and said, “You mean? We have some raspberry tea?” Thank you, Ms. Linda, for my Iced Tea Maker. It will find a prominent place on my counter!

If y’all had to be away from the South (or perhaps you’re a northernly friend reading in on Southern life), what would you miss most?

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports

1 05 2008

Churchill Downs

Tradition! Tradition! There are certain traditions that any native Kentuckian (one of which, I am proud to be!) looks forward to every year: Midnight Madness, the Kentucky Derby.

This year’s Derby is taking place this Saturday, May 3rd, 2008. It is the 134th annual Derby to be held, one of America’s oldest traditions. The Kentucky Derby is a one and a quarter mile horse-race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses, held each year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The “Run for the Roses” holds its origin in 1872 when Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr., the grandson of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark), traveled to England. There he visited the Epsom Derby. Upon his arrival home, Clark organized the Louisville Jockey Club, in order to raise the funds to build Churchill Downs, named for, John and Henry Churchill, who provided the land for the track.

The inaugural race was won by Aristides, a colt who was trained by future Hall of Famer, Ansel Williamson. Aristides rode to a second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes later that year. Although the race was a success at first, the track had financial difficulties and was incorporated with new and improved facilities. But it still struggled until 1902 when Col. Matt Winn assembled a group of businessmen to acquire the facility. As a result, the Kentucky Derby prospered and became the premier horse race in America that it is today.

Horse owners began racing their winning Derby horses to compete weeks later in the Preakness Stakes followed by the Belmont Stakes, which together offer the largest purse, and therefore became known as the Triple Crown.

The first national television coverage of the Kentucky Derby took place in 1952. The show will air this year on NBC, beginning at 4 p.m. The actual race will probably begin sometime around 5 p.m.

Get together with your friends to watch, and throw a Derby party. If you do, be sure to dress up, as a tradition is that the patrons sitting in “Millionaire’s Row” wear lavish outfits, complete with elaborate hats. You’ll also want to be sure to serve traditional Kentuckian fare. Burgoo, hot browns, derby pie, and of course mint juleps are time-honored favorites. (I’ll include a recipe for Mint Julep Iced Tea below from the May 2002 issue of Coastal Living.) Many thematic decorations can be found online. One of my favorite party décor/favor websites is And also be sure to find a recording of Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Revelry is a major part of the Derby tradition, so whatever you do, have fun, and enjoy the most exciting two minutes in sports of the year!

Mint Julep Iced Tea


8 mint leaves
1 lemon, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 cup bourbon (optional)
3 cups cold sweetened tea
Cubed or crushed ice


Combine first 3 ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher, pressing with spoon to crush mint. Stir in bourbon and tea. Add ice.


2 quarts

On which horse are you placing your bet?