A unique perspective on everything I devour from food to drink to books and beyond.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Memorial Day Weekend 2011. A trip was planned to visit Cory's sister Jenifer & fam, and to meet their new baby Lucas. Always on a quest for a blog-worthy culinary experience, I attacked Google head on during our 9 hour car ride. I was on a quest to find what delicacy was indigenous to Indianapolis and determined to try it and write about it. Upon first search it seemed steak houses were the #1 most popular food destinations amongst Hoosiers. While I love a good steak, it was certainly not the gem I was looking for.
Here in the story is where my title "Delicious Irony" is born...with of course a little back story for entertainment.
The Back Story
My corn-fed mid west husband grew up in the small rural Illinois town of LaSalle/Peru lovingly referred to as LP. (SN: I've often wondered if the two town names are combined due to the small size.) I've been to this town numerous times and the locals have very strong (positive) opinions about the restaurants found there. I've been lucky enough to have had the super crispy fried chicken at John's Northstar, the Buttermilk Dill salad dressing at Uptown Grille and even a drunk 3am post wedding chow down (with the bride and groom still in full dress) at the Steak N' Shake, but there is always one place I refused to go. The Igloo. (see above right) The Igloo is categorized as a "Drive-In" although I'm not sure why. It's a small white concrete building that serves (apparently) awesome food. They serve their food on wax paper and Febreeze seems to be the principle cleaning agent. Being that we didn't get too many opportunities to visit Peru, I was forced happy to eat lunch here because Cory had to have a "pork" while in town. A "pork" is a flattened, fried pork tenderloin sandwich that sticks out about 2 inches in every direction, served on a hamburger bun with your choice of condiments. Never in my life have I heard of this, and I was nervous about the restaurants condition so I was unwavering in my refusal to try one...it just sounded gross and I highly doubt an "A" sticker would be placed on the front door if visited by DHEC. I now know that the smallest, dingy-est dives are where you usually find the best food but I digress. Here is where we connect the first part of the entry with the now.
The Now Story
Ironically, the #2 most popular food in Indianapolis is...you guessed it...a fried pork tenderloin sandwich!! What?? I've been shunning it all these years (10 to be exact) and here it is, I now know I have to try one. Indianapolians (not sure if that's a real word) have very strong opinions about where to get a "pork". Mug N' Bun (best name ever) seemed to come up as the most favorable. After arriving at our destination, I asked our hosts where this place was and OMG! It was only 5 miles from their house!!! It seems the tables had turned and I was the one forcing urging everyone to go get a "pork" for lunch. Well after about 6 hours of impromptu yard work, we were ravenous. We headed dirty, tired and hungry to the Mug N' Bun and as we pulled in the clouds parted, the sun shone through and I'm pretty sure Angels started to sing somewhere in the background.
A true Drive In, the carhops still place trays on the your car window (half rolled down!) . The air was thick with the smell of something, everything frying in hot oil. It smelled like...well...nostalgia. The Mug N' Bun is over 50 years old and I guarantee not much has changed in that time. The "pork" is their most popular menu item but coming in a close second is the house-made root beer which was cold and frosty and vanilla-ee. I surveyed the area, camera clicking away and the anticipation of impending artery clogging was almost too much to bear. Not wanting to stay in the car there was also a second option to dine on picnic tables around the side of the building. We went for the third option of eating inside a small building with about 10 tables. Being that it was not only a holiday but also the weekend of the 100th Indianapolis 500, the place was packed! Even at 2pm! I will reiterate that we were all very very hungry when I tell you we ordered $77.00 worth of $4.00 items. Obviously we all had a "pork" as well as the fries, colossal onion rings and the second most ridiculous sweet potato fries ever, the first being in a previous post which you can read about here: Duck Fat Fries.
Monster Onion Rings as big as your head!
They served them with cinnamon sugar! Genius
Yeah, yeah...I know. I look terrible. Just remember this was after 6 hours of yard work.
The "pork's" were tasty. I asked everyone what their condiment preference was and everyone was different! Not even the waitress could tell me what was "typical". I really wanted the complete experience so I tried a little of everything. American cheese, lettuce and tomato on the whole thing and then a bite with mustard, a bite with ketchup and a bite with pickles. My only complaint is that the meat itself was breaded (not floured like in LP) and it was a little on the bland side. I'm thinking that may be by design since people add so many salty condiments.
What else can I say? Those LP'ers know their food! I was delightfully surprised and I can now cross a "pork" off my never have must-try list. I hope you've enjoyed my deliciously ironic story :)
PS - For all you LP'ers reading this, I may just devote another entry to Rav's vs. Tortellini...you know who you are.