Welcome to my tales of cookery school, food and travel

The first 30+ posts of this blog describe my experiences as I complete a nine month cooking course - the City and Guilds Diploma in Food Preparation and Culinary Art. I did this after I moved out of full time employment and it was purely selfish - I love food, cooking, eating and drinking. Subsequent posts are about, food, travel and adventures.

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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

And they're off for the 143rd Kentucky Derby

 How many Uber drivers does it take to work Kentucky Derby weekend?  I don't know, but it is somewhere close to a shitload.  Over three days we take 9 or 10 Uber trips and only one driver is local.  The rest have come in from all over, with one guy driving three hours from some place in Ohio.  You'd have to really need the dollars.  Uber pays them a guaranteed $900 if they make 45 fares over the weekend.  That isn't even over and above what they make, it's rounded up.  And still we walked for a hour after we left the races before we could get a ride! 



And we're off! Oaks and Derby tickets

The Kentucky Derby, like the Melbourne Cup, is "the race that stops a nation".  Here in Louisville - pronounced Looville in case you weren't listening - every first Saturday in May for the past 143 years, 150,000 or so people have flocked to Churchill Downs racetrack. 

It's not always so much for the racing, as while this is a day of ceremony, elegance and tradition, it comes with a southern fried helping of decadence and depravity.  


Mint Juleps! Mint Juleps!



The official drink is a Mint Julep, which is pretty much all Bourbon and more Bourbon with a sprig of mint. The dress code is, well, dress to excess. 



For women, that's the biggest hat you can find, and at the glamorous end they pay between $500 and $5,000 for these confections - a simple fascinator (or fornicator as I've heard them called) just doesn't cut it.

Where did you get that hat?

For men it appears to mean dressing like a complete dork.


Aces high



On Oaks day (day before Derby day) fashion took a back seat to warmth and dryness as it rained all day and the temperature hit a high of 47C - that's about 8C!   My pre trip research led me to

A pile of confiscated umbrellas

pack a silk dress and sandals for the usual range of 75-80F (23-27C).  As luck would have it, a later part of this trip will see me in the Italian Alps so I had merino at hand!  And how fortuitous I'd bought cowboy boots in Nashville (I had to! We were going line dancing).  

Rain boots, riding boots or any kind of boots and raincoats were required.

Along with a long list of other things (guns, knives, nappy/diaper bags unless accompanied by a child) umbrellas are forbidden.


Rain coats required


I've never seen track conditions officially described as "sloppy" but sloppy is a very accurate term for the meeting.

It rained non stop for Oaks day, but by Derby day the rain abated to showers and the temperature rocketed to a positively tropical 62F/16C.  I was down to three layers and boots!  


The Run for the Roses, as the Derby is known, doesn't take place til about 6:30pm and there are 11 races in the lead up. 

It's all a matter of pacing yourself through the day.  It's fair to say not everyone knows how to pace themselves. 

Did we make money? I walked away a little bit better off. Did we have a good time?  Sure did, despite the weather.  Would we go again? Well, we probably wouldn't fly thousands of miles for it but it was well worth the once in a lifetime experience.

On theme with roses              
Fly my pretties
I don't know what to say
The grass is always greener
And now for the boys....
This is my wife's hat, really
Don't wear your money dude!
Harlequin is in the house
Matchy matchy

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