Tamales for the Derby (Gravy Ep. 12)

Most of us know the Kentucky Derby from the front side of the track: the fancy Derby hats, the mint juleps, the thrill of the race. But there’s a whole other world to racetracks in the South—and one with food that tells a story about who’s working there.

Maria, a worker at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, with her son, Angel, at the Backside Learning Center.
Maria, a worker at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, with her son, Angel, at the Backside Learning Center.

In this episode of Gravy, we follow the horse racing seasons from track to track to learn about the workers behind the scenes, and what their food tells us about who they are.

Marcia White at the Track Kitchen at Churchill Downs.
Marcia White at the Track Kitchen at Churchill Downs.

You can find Churchill Downs, the racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, here… And the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans here.

Early morning training at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans.
Early morning training at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans.

You can learn more about backside track workers in this paper about their physical and mental health and income… or this paper about workers at Arlington Park Racetrack in Chicago.

Tara Anderson interviewing Maria at the Backside Learning Center.
Tara Anderson interviewing Maria at the Backside Learning Center.

You can find the Backside Learning Center here.

Condiments on offer at the Horsemen's Cafeteria,  on the backside of the track in New Orleans.
Condiments on offer at the Horsemen’s Cafeteria, on the backside of the track in New Orleans.

For a little background on the range of different Central American cuisines, go here.