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A Taste of Louisville

Clockwise from upper left: Muhammad Ali, Churchill Downs, The Louisville Slugger, The Hot Brown, The Brown Hotel, Col. Sanders

Spent a portion of the weekend in Louisville, Kentucky attending a Public Radio Station News Directors conference and, really, it was only a drop-in, but it’s an interesting place. A hell of a lot of really important stuff has Louisville connections.

As we were on final approach into Louisville International airport in our tiny but fast jet operated by Chautauqua airlines, I was ideally positioned to see that little race track they have there. The one called Churchill Downs that’s home to the Kentucky Derby. And by the way, it’s only called an international airport because it’s a big hub for United Parcel Service- they don’t actually have any international flights with people on them.

Later that afternoon as I sauntered through town with some friends in the wilting 99 degree heat I ran into Muhammad Ali Boulevard. I had forgotten “Cassius Clay” was from Louisville. In fact, his first nickname was “The Louisville Lip.”

And let’s not forget Col. Sanders. I LOVE original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken. No, truly, it is one of my great weaknesses in life. Plus- they have the best cole slaw and mashed potatoes ever. Because I happen to never ever be near a KFC but love that stuff so much, to me it was kind of like a religious experience to see the large KFC restaurant in downtown Louisville that has a bigger-than-life-sized statue of the Colonel himself.

Speaking of food, you can’t visit Louisville without eating a “Hot Brown.” Well, you could, but the experience wouldn’t be complete. I stayed at the Brown Hotel, a gorgeous, old, historic hotel where this fine culinary contribution to America was invented. It’s an open faced sandwich with turkey and bacon and tons of melted cheese and it’s so good I’m salivating as I write about it at this very moment.

And, of course, there’s the Louisville slugger. The best baseball bats in America are still made in downtown Louisville. Thanks to a friend’s cell phone camera, there is, somewhere, a photo of me standing, drenched in sweat, in front of the largest replica of a baseball bat in the world- a gigantic 120-foot tall version of the Louisville slugger. These are the bats (the regular-sized ones) that were used by Babe Ruth, Lou Gerhig and Ty Cobb. And 60% of today’s major leaguers.

I did not get to drink bourbon (which I hate) or take in the 4th street collection of clubs (Louisville’s version of Bourbon street). But it was very cool seeing Churchill Downs, and the hometown of Louisville sluggers, Ali and the Colonel. If they could just turn the temperature down a little bit. I love fried chicken but prefer not being fried myself.

  1. Jim Hawk
    June 29, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I’m the same way about KFC and in the same predicament – there’s not a single Colonel within miles… But there is one nearby when I visit my mom in Perrysburg, Ohio, so it’s a mandatory pilgrimmage !

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