The Search for the Perfect Tenderloin

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I have but two days left here in the heartland of America. Three weeks of acclimation to the Hoosier culture has had little effect on me, except to remind me that I normally dwell in a place that might be taken to be on different planet. After living in Papua New Guinea for thirty years, I inevitably feel out of place in the USA – as if I am a foreigner. Of course, it’s natural that I still experience that same feeling while at home in Madang, since I am  a foreigner there. My conclusion is that I don’t really fit anywhere now. I am, in a sense, a man without a country. I won’t complain about that. I chose the life and it has been a great ride. I will have to live with the feeling of being a Stranger in a Strange Land for the rest of my life, no matter where I am. There are worse things . . .

I got only one decent sunrise shot while here in Hoosierland. The weather has been mostly miserable, causing huge floods south of here. In this shot the prevailing cloud structures are aircraft contrails, something never seen in Madang:

My search for the perfect tenderloin is being rudely interrupted by my departure for Illinois on Tuesday. I’ll be there for a few nights and then off to Wisconsin for the last of my meetings with supporters. Then I’ll be heading for Canada for three weeks of genuine R&R. I am very glad that my son, Hans, is picking me up  in Brownsburg and shepherding me through my last adventures in the Midwest.

I did manage to find an excellent candidate at Green Street Station in Brownsburg. They had a choice of “beer battered” or “crispy”. The waitress suggested that the crispy was less oily. As is the Hoosier tradition, the tenderloin was fairly thick and twice the diameter of the bun. There is plenty of protein there, kiddies. The fries were so-so:

As with most food in this genre, it’s best consumed with a rich, full-bodied brew, chock full of vitamin B. It this case it was a Killian’s Red Ale. The sandwich tasted just as I expected. Despite my shaky sense of smell, I could tell that it fit the tradition. It was a good feed. I could consume only half of it, so I had another good lunch the next day, thanks to a microwave oven.

Another candidate for a good sandwich feed can be found at Squealers with locations in Indianapolis and Mooresville. Though the meat in this sandwich can be found in other parts of the world, I don’t think that there is any place else where it is called pulled pork. That sounds vaguely disgusting to me. There are may different ways of serving it. In this case it was “sauce on the side”, which is my preference:

The pork at Squealers is excellent, very tasty and tender. The baked beans were also very good, but might be too sweet for some. As with the tenderloin I washed it down with a Killian’s. (Hey, I’m on holiday.)

That pretty well covers my culinary adventures in The Crossroads of America. I probably won’t be reporting what I eat until I hit Canada. I’m sure to make an appearance at Rebel’s Rock in Hamilton. Eunie and I have always gone there for a great evening of live music while in Canada. You’ll just have to wait. I’ll have pictures such as these and these. Oh, goody – available light shots.

Speaking of birds . . . uh . . . okay, now  speaking of birds, I had a very nice couple of hours at the Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center a few days ago with my friend and host, Steve Hassfurder. I have enjoyed a wonderful time here with Steve and his very pleasant wife, Marta. Steve and I have some significant life experience in common. It has been very helpful to me to talk to him about this. Some of it has been stressful for him, I know. I see it as a mark of friendship that he was willing to give me the benefit of his experience and convey to me some of the wisdom he gained along the way.

Hmmm . . . was I talking about birds? It seems so:

That’s a shot of one of the observation stations. Both stations are indoors, so winter viewing should be reasonably comfy. The other one looks out over a special conservation area of Eagle Creek Reservoir. It’s my understanding that Eagle Creek Park is the second largest city operated park in the world.

I got this shot of a Common (or Northern) Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)  from the window in the image above. In Indiana it is usually called, simply, a Redbird:

This is a male. The female is rather dingy in comparison. I was told that if I sat in that room for a year I would very likely see over 270 species of bird life, but I would starve in the process. I had no idea that Indiana hosted such a huge number of species. Some of those, of course, would be migratory and not permanent residents. You know – like me! I am very migratory these days.

I can’t leave Hoosierland without showing you this very peculiar image. No, kiddies, this is not an up-and-coming executive treating his precious V-Dub to a little pre-wash tickle. This is the “greeter” (and cashier) at Mike’s Car Wash, a very popular vehicle grooming establishment in central Indiana. I’m serious, folks:

The basic wash is five bucks, a reasonable price these days, I suppose. The nice fellow will, of course, attempt to sell you all of the optional waxes, shiners, protections, glazes and tire glosses that trick out your ride and make you feel as if you have moved up a couple of income brackets. These last until the next rain. Be frugal. Your car is simply dirty. It needs no pampering. Pamper a human. It’s much more rewarding and the results last longer.

As a public service I will now brave the possibility of a take-down notice to expose one of those obnoxious As Seen On TV rip-offs which poison our minds with false dreams of ease and comfort which will enrich our lives and allow us to achieve the true happiness guaranteed by our beloved Constitution.*

UPDATE: My son, a student of political science among other things, pointed out to me in a comment that it is the Declaration of Independence and not the US Constitution which hints that we are free to knock ourselves out in the pursuit of happiness. My embarrassment falls short of acute. Like many other bits of information, I used to know that, but it has long been displaced by data which is more crucial to my survival. Thanks, Hans.

I have been disgusted on numerous occasions by the stupid, frivolous and apparently misleading TV commercial for an utterly ridiculous product called EasyFeet. If you have not already been offended by viewing this you can torture yourself here. (I’d be interested to know if anyone else is shocked by the much-too-old boy and girl in a bathtub together.)

I admit to being suckered by this product for about ten seconds. I spend very little time thinking of my feet or tending to them and I have absolutely no problem reaching them. However, the idea of simply slipping my tootsie into such a cute scrubbing device . . . hey, wait! My feet are insanely ticklish. Want to reduce me to spasms of raw panic? Just tickle my feet. I bet you can’t wait to try it, eh? No, this thing is not for me.

There are two web sites which purport to report about “As Seen on TV” items. One, As Seen On TV On Sale, seems to be legitimate. You can see its page about EasyFeet here. When I looked at it there were 303 reviews. I could find few which were complementary. The other “As Seen On TV” site seems to be purely promotional. There are also many sites that seem bogus to me and may be part of a web campaign to flood the Google result pages with glowing reviews and opportunities to purchase EasyFeet.

Why did I waste so much of your precious time with that? Sorry, I have no amusing excuses. “The dog ate it” is not going to work on this occasion.

I’ll try to do better next time.

* I should add a disclaimer here. The US Constitution does not, by any stretch of the imagination, guarantee happiness. What it does seem to imply is that we have an inalienable right to pursue happiness, which is an altogether different thing. Any fool can see that we are, with supreme effort, pursuing happiness with the vigor of a pack of bloodhounds. We are absolutely relentless in our pursuit of earthly bliss. The glitter of terrestrial Nirvana (not the band) glows like a beacon in the distance. Alas, few of us actually get our fingers through the brass ring.

I’ve stopped praying for happiness. I’ve switched to praying for wisdom. I reckon that some happiness will come packed inside.

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21 Responses to “The Search for the Perfect Tenderloin”

  1. roztafarian bill Says:

    Hey Maddog….you’re stomping close to my home turf, Louisville. I’ll bet you do feel a bit strange in this land now, for many reasons, not the least of which is the one you mention.

    Wish I could help you with that happiness gig…here’s a resource:
    http://preview.tinyurl.com/p2nbe9 ….Psychologist Dan Gilbert speaking at TED about his book, Stumbling on Happiness. In my own case, I’m pretty sure stumbling upon it is likely the most direct way I’ll get there.

    Hope you are otherwise well and have survived the mostly uninteresting cuisine of the cross roads.

    Cheers!
    -RB

  2. Jay Griffin Says:

    Tana and I had a blast of laughter and giggles the first time we saw that ‘easy feet’ commercial (that stuff plays a lot on qubo). She is a natural when it comes to picking out the marketing speak.
    The best quip was “It’s a car wash for your feet!”

  3. Georgi Says:

    It`s simply amazing, how easy it is for marketing people to target our lazyness… In most cases people would like this product… And if at the right price, they will most surely buy it. But that`s just an effect of our consumer-oriented economy/education/life.

    And yes, my sister and I have never shared the same bath at an age older than 2-3…

    Hey, have a great travels, Jan, and I hope you have something better to eat than those things on the pictures above…!

  4. Hans Says:

    Wow, you have been away from the US a long time, Dad. It’s the Declaration of Independence that talks about the pursuit of happiness, not the Constitution.

    See, that political science minor was worth something.

    See you tomorrow.

  5. MadDog Says:

    Well, son of mine, you have caused me great chagrin. However, it is well deserved. I shall amend the post and give credit where credit is due. I’ll attempt to make a joke of it, as I do with all of my failures. We’ll have a laugh about it tomorrow.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Georgi, I wonder how many people are tempted by EasyFeet because they can no longer reach their feet to wash them. It seems to me that far too many people today are in such a condition. Certainly there are medical conditions which might prevent this modest flexibility. However, I find it sad that many people allow themselves to be robbed of mobility because of inactivity and unhealthy habits. The other factor is, as you say, our brainwashed state of consumerism.

    I’m glad that someone else comments about the children in the tub. It scene seemed exploitative to me. I was repelled.

    I am enjoying my adventures, modest as they may be. The difference in environment is helping to heal me. Thanks for your good wishes. I plan to eat better and less over the next few weeks. Even with the crappy food at restaurants, I’m gaining weight.

  7. MadDog Says:

    Jay, I am so looking forward to spending some time with you and Tana (and the rest of the clan). I need to get some humor and social ease back into my life. I’ll be glad to be in a place where I can simply be me, warts and all.

    I actually shivered when I began to think of what it would be like to insert my foot into one of those demon-inspired EasyFeet contraptions. In fact, I am not sure I could even do it. I can jump out of an airplane (and have). I can smash my camera into a shark’s nose if he seems too troublesome (and have). I’ve done so many “adventurous” things that I’ve lost track. It’s a wonder that I’m alive. However, the idea of rubbing my incredibly sensitive foot in there wilts me and makes me tremble.

    Car wash, indeed! I’ll call it “Waterboarding For Your Feet”. (And yes, I have been waterboared twice, that I remember. I’ll tell you about it, if you ask. Unfortunately, I will then have to kill you.)

  8. MadDog Says:

    Bill, I guess you must be feeling a bit damp, eh? I’ve been watching the floods south of here. I hope you’re not affected. Even the first time I returned to the USA in 1986 after five and a half years in PNG I felt like a tourist. I think that it’s normal, but it creates a huge cultural disconnect. There is virtually nothing that I can talk about with an American, at least of the conservative variety in which I’m presently immersed. I find myself biting my tongue most of the time. It’s getting sore.

    I’ve seen that Dan Gilbert clip before. It’s very good. It gave me some of my initial ideas about seeking happiness and I’ve pretty much run with that attitude. I’m synthesizing like crazy.

  9. Ali Says:

    You must be so excited at the prospect of finally meeting up with your family Jan.
    Wishing you happy, relaxing and loving times ahead.
    Hey, thanks for the foodie photos btw.
    Pulled Pork sounds ummm interesting? Are those potato crisps on the plate with your burger?
    I have also heard the term “Loose Meat” used in fast food places in the USA, I am told it is similar to what we call mince?? The name is not enticing at all.

    PS Can you please explain the meaning of the word “Hoosier” to me? I may have missed this in a past post and apologise if this is so ?

  10. MadDog Says:

    Ali, I am looking forward to being with my son and his family. I have not seen my granddaughters since 2008 and only sporadically over the years before that. I’ve seen them grow up only in snapshots. It’s one of the few regrets of my life. I’m also looking forward to my stay with my old friend Grace in Sedona, Arizona, an absolutely amazing place. It looks now as if that stay may stretch to the end of September. I’m truly blessed by friends who have opened their homes to me for my continuing recovery.

    Loose meat??? That’s even more revolting than pulled pork. You could make dirty jokes about either. I don’t want to eat anything which sounds like a punch line of a dirty joke.

    I wish I could tell you the origin of the work Hoosier. It is a subject of endless debate. If you want to read what I believe is the definitive explanation (and you have some time on your hands) try The Word Hoosier by Jeffrey Graf of Indiana University. Be sure to tell me what you conclude. I’ve not read the whole thing.

  11. Ali Says:

    I’ll check out the Hoosier thing when I get a chance thanks. Let you know what I deduct.
    I’m with you on the meat!!…. YUCK! Who could come up names like that and possibly think that they sound inviting??

    Safe travels.
    PS have you heard any news from Val ?

  12. ahna Says:

    Good food shots. My favorites I love tenerloins and pulled pork. Good places are hard to find to eat these dishes. I have had some bad dishes. But my Favorite is the KILLIANS. I am having withdrawls. i can’t wait to have a nice tall cold one soon. I know the weather has been bad here and I wish it had been been better. I laugh at the foot thinging you have on here as my mom has one. LOL she likes it but I don’t see the purpose in it. I have been to Sedona and Love it there. I love AZ. Im a sucker for western history, not that I know alot, but the Indian ruins are fun to look at and learn from. Tell Hans I say Hi with he comes in I will try and call you before you leave and maybe i can say Hi to Hans. When you see the family give them all a hug from me and the family. Love ya

  13. MadDog Says:

    No, Ali. I have heard nothing from Val. I can’t remember when she was supposed to get back. I think that she should be back by now. If you find out anything, please let me know.

  14. MadDog Says:

    Ahna, I’ve had some beers in Europe that beat any American brew I’ve ever tasted, but some of the better small brewers are catching up fast. The best of the Central European beers taste like they have been being brewed for a thousand years. They are that good. You can’t kill a good beer. I don’t know if you know about the German “Purity Law” regarding beer. It’s an interesting read. I do have other favorites in good American beers (Fat Tire!), but the mass-market beers leave me cold. Be patient. you will soon be able to enjoy a nice, refreshing brew.

    Hans will be arriving this afternoon. We’ll grab something to eat and be off to Illinois, so we won’t have time for him to visit. I’m eager to get to Canada for two weeks. I hope I will not freeze. It will be much warmer in Sedona and my departure time from there keeps slipping into the future. That’s a good thing.

    Please pass on my thanks to the family and my apologies to any I was not able to see. The exotic old uncle is now off to continue his adventures.

  15. ahna Says:

    Uncle Jan we have a resturant that I love going to is Shallo’s. They have a famous selection of domestic and import beers. I love German beer. Tim thinks Im crazy but I love the lagers. Here is the link http://www.shallos.com/, so when you come back this way My treat to Shallos and some sampling. LOL I hope the rest of your R and R goes well. Thanks for visiting. I know the kids and noise was unbelievable but they talked non stop about you even though they did not spend the time with you. (Go figure). Kids are funny. Today is the big Dr. visit and ultra sound to see what kind of giant is growing inside me. Hopefully we will have a quicker due date than June 22. Love ya.

  16. kristy Says:

    My prayer is for peace to accept what is thrown my way!

  17. Colin Huggins Says:

    Jan, mate – you must have an iron clad constitution to even look at that “US junk food” – no wonder so many Yanks are obese!
    MacDonalds here as I walk past, and FAST, remind me of that horrible food that is dished up at US diners etc.
    The only food that I was able to eat with some comfort on my many trips were in 5 star establishments or on occasions at the homes of people I knew – ( and then sometimes my stomach went into revolt mode!). Breakfasts with bacon, eggs, pancakes, hash browns, syrups and God forbid ice cream – no way!
    Of course, to eat 5 star you needed a platinum coated credit card, and then there were those horrible tips! The old Gold card is sniffed at!!!!
    Have you asked the staff at these places what their wage/salary is for a week? Do so, you will be horrified, especially in places like Louisiana and Texas! If they didn’t get tips, they would be on skid row! That also includes bar staff and hotel porters etc.

    Besides the above “blast” , you are endeavouring to return to your roots and coming to grips with your recent loss. So the trip away from Madang, is no doubt in some way a healing factor.
    Take care, and WATCH that food!
    Please no more food shots – ha ha!
    Cheers
    Colin (HB)

  18. DogsDontPurr Says:

    Pulled pork used to be more of a staple in the South, I think. But here in California…well, all over the West Coast, you can find pulled pork everywhere from the diviest dives to the most tony high end restaurant: from $3 to $30….take your pick. When it’s done right, it can be to die for (at any price range)! There are even competitions. Pulled pork kind of comes and goes as a trendy menu item.

    I have a friend who is a true “foodie,” and you wouldn’t imagine the great lengths he goes to, to seek out the best pulled pork. He’ll drive for hours if he gets a tip about some new place.

  19. MadDog Says:

    Ahna, I’m looking forward to a trip to Shallos. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen so many varieties of beer in one place. So many beers . . . so little time. I never drink much, but I do love the taste of a good beer. If you tried a couple of new ones a week you could take years to get through them. Hey, it’s a hobby!

    I tune the children out. Except for the piercing screams, it doesn’t bother me. I pretty much ignore children these days, as they do me. Take care of yourself. I’ll be back someday, if the wind blows me there.

  20. MadDog Says:

    I think you have a winner there, Kristy.

  21. MadDog Says:

    Colin, I have no way to cook for myself (about as appealing as the restaurant crap, but healthier), so I’m stuck with the junk food. I won’t spend the money to eat at a decent place. Five star – hah! Forget it. I can forage at the supermarket and stay fed for a few days for what a fancy meal costs. I’m eating about half of my normal meals and filling the rest in with fruit and a handful of vitamins.

    The portion sizes and calorie counts are ridiculous. I regularly see people sit down and consume 5,000 calories at a sitting and many eat three such meals a day. It seems gluttonous to me.

    You are right. The pay is awful. I have fallen out of the habit of tipping, as we don’t do it in PNG and Oz. Now I can’t eat a meal with table service without thinking of the poor person, probably not as well off as I, who is hoping for a decent tip. I tend to be generous, thinking it will come back to me somehow.

    This trip IS doing me a lot of good. Being so hugely distracted is helping me to heal.

    I’ll try to keep the food shots to a minimum, mate. Thanks for the amusing comment.