Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Hot Brown
It's funny - it's happened more than once that when friends from faraway places come to visit, they're puzzled that the "Hot Brown" isn't on the menu everywhere we go. "I thought everyone in Kentucky eats Hot Browns", they say. Nope, sorry. We don't all eat Derby Pie, Squambo, or squirrel brains either. (One of my houseguests was from Australia, and she demonstrated the inverse to me by pointing out that the menu at Outback Steakhouse is, as a representation of Aussie cuisine, virtually a total fiction.)
I'm actually not a fan of the Hot Brown sandwich myself; I don't care for sandwiches covered in gooey runny sauces, and I'm such a tomato snob that the tomatoes that most restaurants use simply aren't good enough for me.
Having said that, Wikipedia's photo of the Hot Brown (pictured above) shows an example from the Kurtz Restaurant in Bardstown, and I have to say it looks pretty darned good. I'd probably still pick the tomaters off, but I like how it's coated in a thick melted American cheese instead of the traditional alfredo-ish Mornay sauce. Next time I'm in Bardstown, I may stop in and check it out.
But as a cultural relic with mythic resonance, I fully appreciate the Hot Brown as part of the Brown Hotel experience - the sandwich was created there by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. The Brown Hotel is one of Louisville' greatest treasures, and is, as you might expect, very haunted. I'm working on a project to assess the supernatural activity at the Brown Hotel, but we'll talk more about that in the near future.