It occurred to yours truly because, in the run-up to last night’s game, at least a dozen people asked me: “Why are you such a big U of L fan?” (Nothing gets past ELV — he’s as sharp as a bowling ball.)
The simple reason is, I went to law school there back in the 70s, and cut my teeth as a trial attorney with the Jefferson District Public Defenders office.
The more complex, nuanced reason, of course, has to do with food.
Specifically, a sandwich known as the Hot Brown (pictured above).
You see, besides living out my reprobate and scandalous twenties in a town named after a French king, my time in Lou-EE-ville (the correct pronunciation, no matter what the natives say), my seven years there marked the first time in my life I was ever exposed to a town with a real food culture. (Florida and Connecticut – two other places I’ve haled from – may be great in a number of ways, but no one has ever talked about their home-grown cuisines.)
Kentucky was the first and only place I’ve lived that reveled in its natural resources. These days, Louisville evens garners national food ‘zine ink as a locavore haven. But back in the day, it was a simple, turkey sandwich with bacon, tomato and a Mornay sauce that first grabbed my attention. You might even say the Hot Brown was my gateway drug. From tasting my first one at Kunz’s The Dutchman, to Hasenour’s, to the Pendennis Club, I was hooked. And whether it was the lip-smacking deliciousness of Shaker food, burgoo, chess pie, the iconic country hams, Moonlight’s mutton barbecue, or lots and lots of great Bourbon whisky, I knew I was in hog heaven.
It didn’t hurt either that, throughout this time, my alma mater also had a kick-ass basketball team, that was predicted to win it all in my first year of law school (the Junior Bridgeman-led team lost to UCLA in the Final Four), and then took the big prize in both 1980 (Darrell Griffith) and 1986 (Pervis Ellison).
Thus was Louisville the town which made me a lawyer, a basketball fan and a foodie. It is also where Number One Son (the grand poo-bah of our staff) was born, and where I married the mother of Number Two Son — so you could say me and the ‘Ville go way back together. I can’t thank it (and the many great people I met there) enough for those gifts and the joys they have brought me….in food, drink, friendship and basketball.
That’s why I’m such a fan of Louisville, Kentucky and its university.