Break out the party hats and grab the birthday candles! It's time for the big 4-0!

That's right. Taste is 40 -- and we've never looked better. (It's all that butter. Keeps the skin soft and supple.) So let's celebrate in style.

You're invited. We would like you to join us in commemorating four decades of a publication that has kept us well fed for several generations. We will continue this celebration throughout the year with weekly recipes from the past in these pages.

Join the Taste staff at any of our public events. (No need to bring gifts. Your presence is our, well, you know):

Today -- Taste Night at the Heights, 7:30 p.m. The Heights Theatre and Taste will put on a showing of "Mildred Pierce," the 1945 Joan Crawford film noir that meshes mother love, restaurants and murder. Memorable line: "My mother, a common waitress!"

Get there early because Harvey Gustafson will be playing food songs on the theater's Wurlitzer organ before the movie begins. We'll also show old clips of TV food ads (courtesy of the Mill City Museum archive).

And there will be loads of door prizes (every birthday needs gifts!). $8 at the door or online (; 3951 Central Av. NE, Columbia Heights, 763-788-9079.

Friday -- The carillon bells of City Hall in downtown Minneapolis will ring at noon with a medley of food-related songs played by Pierre Girard. Listen carefully -- then sing along, wherever you may be!

Saturday -- Birthday cake at the Mill City Farmers Market, from 8 a.m. to noon (or as long as the cake lasts). Meet up with Taste staffers, past and present, and have a8slice of birthday cake specially made by Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart. The market is on the plaza at 2nd St. and Chicago Av. S., Mpls. (next to the Guthrie Theater).

And much more

Throughout October you can participate in our birthday celebration:

Watch a slide show of original poster covers that illustrated the section for almost two decades, shown continuously at the Mill City Museum, 704 S. 2nd St., Minneapolis

Show us your birthday cake creations in our online cake contest at Judging will be done by viewers; there will be a $200 prize.

No need to RSVP. We'll expect to see you!