Super Bowl food fight: Indianapolis vs. New Orleans sandwiches
The Super Bowl can sometimes seem almost as much about the party food as the football. This year we decided to combine the two and make a contest out of the regional cuisine in each city--in this case, the sandwiches that each Super Bowl team's cities are famous for. Representing Indianapolis is the pork tenderloin sandwich, which is said to have been invented in Indiana. New Orleans's entry is the po' boy, the well-known submarine sandwich of the South. (When all is said and done, we'll also tell you where you can lard up on each in the Twin Cities, for your own Super Bowl shindig.) And now, please rise for the singing of the National Anthem...
Photo: Geoff Lane A pork tenderloin sandwich (actual size may vary)
The pork tenderloin sandwich is the Jucy Lucy of Indianapolis--a homegrown meat-and-bun meal that has become an odd source of civic pride. Its more obsessive devotees have even created a blog and documentary on their favorite sandwich. Like the Lucy, it's a humble thing--a cut of tenderloin pounded flat, breaded, deep-fried, plopped on a bun, and sparsely garnished. For our Super Bowl showdown, we snagged one at the esteemed hole-in-the-wall Casper & Runyon's Nook in St. Paul, which sells them for about 6 bucks. A proper pork tenderloin flops extravagantly beyond the edge of the bun, and the Nook's passes the test, though without showing off. Its tenderloin is heavily breaded and seriously deep-fried to a dark golden brown but retains a dense, meaty pork flavor. The sandwich can often be dry, but the Nook's comes with a welcome side of honey-mustard sauce, plus lettuce, tomato, pickles, and fries. This is a blue-collar sandwich, bland but filling, and a perfect example of why Indianapolis isn't known as a food town. But if you're a Hoosier partisan, it will get the job done--and you definitely won't be hungry again by halftime.