Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Writer Sarah Baird grew up in Kentucky and lives in New Orleans. Her first book, "Kentucky Sweets: Bourbon, Spoonbread, and Mile High Pie," was published earlier this year.
Drenched in gooey cheese, anchored by salty meat, and with enough thick bread to sop it all up, the Hot Brown is quite possibly the ultimate drunk food.
Over the years, the sandwich has not only reached far across the Commonwealth as a go-to remedy for a night of hard drinking, but has become the sandwich ambassador of Louisville’s dining scene. Crafted almost 100 years ago in one of the city’s finest grand hotels, the Brown (which is regal enough to give any Wes Anderson creation a run for its money), its decadence has become a thing of legend.
Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. We'll be sharing dispatches from their 15th annual Symposium "Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmaster, Places, Smoke, and Sauce" over the nest few days. Dig in.
Kentuckians have barbecued on a grand scale since our land became a state in 1792, and that tradition continues today with such massive events as the annual political picnic at Fancy Farm (where in 2011 the team at St. Jerome Catholic Church cooked 19,000 pounds of pork and mutton), and at Owensboro’ s International Bar-B-Q Festival, a charity event where cooks stir 75-gallon cauldrons of burgoo and tend open pits groaning with mutton quarters and whole chickens.
The popularity of the mint julep is rooted as much in the nation's capital as it is in Louisville. Karin Caifa has the report.
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Ah, the mint julep. One of the oldest, most revered and hotly debated fixtures of the drinking world. The name originates from the Arab word "julab," which was likely a medicinal rose water concoction. The modern-day mint julep, however, came about in the early 1800s. Frederick Marryat captured the mint julep best in 1839's A Diary in America:
"I once overheard two ladies talking in the room next to me, and one of them said, 'Well, if I have a weakness for any one thing, it is for a mint julep' - a very amiable weakness, and proving her good sense and good taste. They are, in fact, like American ladies, irresistible."
So, what is a mint julep? Simply: a drink of cognac, whiskey, or rum; sweetened with sugar, iced and flavored with fresh spearmint. A highly ritualistic tipple, I'll leave you to judge which is best.
For each, follow these basic julep preparation guidelines:
In a pre-chilled glass or julep cup, add the syrup and mint leaves. Muddle lightly, just to release the oils. Discard the bruised mint, half pack the glass with crushed ice, pour on the base spirit, stir to chill and top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a bunch of fresh spearmint, stems cut up to the leaves.
That said, I present you with a collection of five juleps, from the contemporary to the classic.