Friday, June 29, 2012

Indianapolis, revisited

One  of my oldest and dearest friends once decided that she liked Indiana. A lot.

You can't really hold it against her... she did grow up there. And her family is there. But when I say that she liked it, I really mean she decided that she loved it, intensely, in the same way I like cheese, or dislike Anne Coulter.

I grew up in Wisconsin, and I've never really loved the Midwest.  It has its charms (cheese), and lord knows that sometimes I miss the people there with a distinct longing. But insofar as my homeland has never given me what I've asked for, we're on the outs. I mean, how hard is it to be temperate, really?

At any rate... every once in a while I get a pass from my parents on the "If you visit the Midwest, you visit us" rule and I can take some time to visit Indiana and its oddly familiar yet entirely strange way of living.

Indianapolis... what is your deal?  It's like if you took Portland, Green Bay, some small southern town and a sliver of Detroit, put them in a jar, shook it up and dumped it out under Lake Michigan.  It is such a strange mix of random richness and poverty and southern accents and hipsters.

I've been to Indiana enough times that I should have been aware of the local fare.  I really should have.  Turns out that all I really knew was that Orville Redenbacher was from Valparaiso, and that the state is close enough to the South to have grits at most of the breakfast joints.  It's just not widely known what Indiana food is... perhaps because the expansive flat fields that go on FOREVER have a negative effect on the human brain, or the tendency of the entire world to ignore Indianapolis even though the city has a couple thousand people on San Francisco.  It's also possible that the world is pretending not to know what kind of food comes from Indiana in the same way that you don't tell people you dipped the Snickers bar you ate last night in Nutella.  No one needs to know, but you did it anyway, because it was delicious.

Every single place in Indianapolis that is indicative to Indiana food has been visited by either Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or Adam Richman from Man vs. Food. We weren't even trying... we'd just walk in the door, and there was the sign.  "Guy Ate Here."  Super.  God knows he didn't eat anything with eggs in it. Asshat.

Edward's Drive-In is the kind of place where you can order a gallon of chili.  The inside looks like a fast food restaurant, you order like a fast food restaurant, you get your drink like a fast food restaurant... but truly, these guys are not a fast food restaurant.  It is one of the quintessential Indianapolis establishments where you can get a tenderloin sandwich.  "What's so special about a tenderloin sandwich, Lindsay?" you're totally asking yourself.


Everywhere else on the planet, if you order a tenderloin sandwich, you get a beef steak on a bun.  In Indiana, what you get is a giant, hammered out slice of pork tenderloin that is then battered and deep fried and put on a bun with pickles and mayo.
You want me.

Fricken fried pork, y'all.

And that would be a fast food thing if they didn't slice your fresh pork off the huge loin, pound the hell out of it and deep fry it when the you order it. It is out of this world delicious.

Other Indianapolis delicacies include corned beef hash that isn't so much hash as a huge pile of corned beef covered in egg yolk (did it), biscuits and sausage gravy (did it the same morning) and lots and lots of beer (did it all day long).  There is also a bar downtown where you can get something called Irish nachos - essentially potato chips covered nacho cheese, jalepenos and corned beef... but that's not an Indiana thing. That's just insanely good bar food.

1 comment:

  1. I had to leave my hometown when I was 18 because I thought I needed a bigger stage. After thirty-something years, I'm still not sure....