What is iconic in Indiana?

Recently, while working on a new project, I was tasked with coming up with things that are iconic in Indiana. Of course, for a foodie like me, most of the things that pop into my mind are edible. Pork tenderloins, persimmons, fried biscuits, sugar cream pie, fried green tomatoes and sati-babis are just a few. Food-related activities like mushroom hunting, shopping at roadside veggie stands and sharing the road with combines and tractors, comes in second.

To others, Indiana is racing and basketball and high school football rivalries. It is chiggers and marching bands or universities like Purdue and IU.

But I’ve noticed that when you’ve lived someplace your entire life, it can be difficult to see how unique it is because it’s what you’ve always known. Such is the case for me with tenderloins and mushroom hunting. It wasn’t until I met someone from Cleveland who I invited mushroom hunting, that I realized that not everyone is familiar with our Hoosier way of life. Do you ever talk to someone from somewhere else and reference Sammy Terry or Cowboy Bob? When they look puzzled, you realize (with sadness) that their childhood as non-Hoosier must be incomplete.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that most people outside of our great state have never experienced the joy of a battered and fried tenderloin bigger than a plate.

So my question for you is: What makes Indiana different than anywhere else? If someone wants to experience real Indiana, what should they do? If they want to take home a real Hoosier souvenir to document their trip here – what do you recommend?

2 Responses

  1. I’ve often sent a Clabber Girl cookbook as a gift to friends in other places. Not only is it chock full of Hoosier foods, but Clabber Girl is produced in Terre Haute—and has been since the 1800’s.

    I sincerely hope that the ISM restaurant has breaded tenderloin on the menu. If not, then it should—of all places, it should certainly feature items which are Hoosier favorites and local specialties.

  2. Nothing says Indiana to me like small towns — the people, the food, the completely unexpected things to do!

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