Iowa

Our trek to cross Iowa began in Omaha.  Corn grows everywhere in Iowa, and much of it is already over six feet tall without yet developing ears or tassels.  The crop looks to be huge this year, meaning poor prices for the farmers, but good prices in a couple of years for American carnivores.

 

We got as far as Des Moines with our first pull.  Our campground, Cherry Glen, is operated by the Corps of Engineers and is near a suburb known as Ankeny.   This marked our first July 4th as full-timers which we neither camped at a Wal*Mart or worked as camp hosts.  The locals were out in force, but they were well behaved with the occasional exception of zig-zagging kids on bicycles or skateboards.   It was hot and humid, but we had shade and glorious air conditioning.

 

It was too hot to sit beside charcoal to grill anything, so we drove into Ankeny’s one open café, Zombie Burger, in search of a GOREmet burger with an order of poutine.   Poutine is huge in Canada, but rare in Iowa.  It is a high-calorie side consisting of crisp French fries, brown beef gravy, and softened cheese curds (they look a little like a zombie’s food of choice, brains).   If you are a cheese curd rookie, curds are marble-sized hunks of white cheese that taste much like fresh Mozzarella.  We passed on the Walking Ched (fried mac and cheese is the bun) and skipped the Dead Elvis Burger, an odd concoction of meat, peanut butter, fried banana, cheese, mayo and fried egg.  We chose 28 Days Out with carmelized onions, bleu cheese, and a half pound patty.  It was closer to okay than good, but Kat liked it, and I Simply Adore poutine.  Fries with cheese and gravy is my kind of chow!

This Is Bona Fide Poutine
This Is Bona Fide Poutine

After a couple of days’ rest we pulled on to Muscatine, IA, 20 miles west of Davenport.  We set up at a lovely Corps campground, Shady Creek, alongside the mighty Mississippi.   Even this far north the river is powerful and perhaps half a mile wide, yet remarkably clean compared to the Big Muddy that swirls around New Orleans.   Even up here it handles a lot of barge traffic with many tugs pushing ten to twenty floats loaded with gravel, fertilizer, or coal.  In the fall millions of tons of grain will go down river, but now most loaded barges go north.

String of Barges from Our Site
String of Barges from Our Site
A Good Mule Looks Like This
A Good Mule Looks Like This

We had lunch in town at Boonie’s on the Avenue.   The food was pedestrian at best, but the bartender makes a world-class Moscow Mule.  Mules are a blend of lime juice, good vodka, and ginger beer over ice, ideally served in a copper cup.  Done right, this is a crisp, refreshing drink.  Kat caught an episode of Oprah! in which she and best friend Gayle went camping in Yosemite.  For the benefit of the show they trudged from trailer to tent to RV offering free Moscow Mules in keeper copper cups.  After passing out 50 or 60 Mules, Oprah asked Gayle “Where are the black people?”  Gayle  knew: “Isn’t camping on Angela Tucker’s list of 15 things blacks don’t do?”  Soon enough our heroines found a tent occupied by a black guy and a white gal.    A relieved Oprah handed them Mules and noted “I was beginning to think black people don’t camp.”  He grinned, “I’d rather see a ball game or shoot pool.  I’m only here because she loves the outdoors.”  Oprah gave them her new pop-up and its tow truck, went home, and apparently hasn’t camped since.

Oprah and Gayle in Yosemite
Oprah and Gayle in Yosemite

TC's Storefront

No visit to Iowa is complete without a Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich.  I enjoyed one of the best at TC’s Point After in DeWitt, IA.   It’s a 6 ounce slice of pork, pounded thin, breaded, fried, and served with lettuce and tomato on a plain old hamburger bun.   Mustard is the customary sauce.  It was outstanding, and Kat ate her entire ½ pound bleu cheese burger, high praise in itself.

BPT Sandwich
BPT Sandwich
TC's Wonderful Coleslaw (That's My Hand ... Been a Good Summer for Tanning)
TC’s Wonderful Coleslaw (That’s My Hand … Been a Good Summer for Tanning)

7 thoughts on “Iowa

  1. I’m drooling here — well, except for the poutine, which you can keep. Not that I’ve ever tried it, but it just looks and sounds WRONG to me. Guess it’s because I’m from the south! Interesting that you were also in Iowa for the 4th! We were at Prairie Rose State Park near Harlan. And we left Iowa without even knowing about the pork tenderloin sammich…jeez. Rookies, we are!

    Like

    1. You never, ever need to miss out on a classic regional food again, Em. Try http://www.roadfood.com

      These two were once married, but make so much money from their blog they still travel and do food reviews together. You may have heard them check in on Splendid Eats with Lynn Rosetto Caspar (sp?). That was our source for TC’s and as you will soon learn, Rip’s Tavern in Ladd, IL.

      It don’t get much more southern than north Louisiana, which is where I’m from. Gravy with cheese and fries sounds like stuff my grandma would have made, had she thought of it.

      Jackson

      Like

  2. Early childhood memories of traveling in Iowa are of endless fields of corn on one side of the road, soybean fields on the other (and soybean factories that smelled for miles and miles).

    ===

    My first thought when looking at the pork sandwich is why bother with the bun. 😉 😀

    I guess it does serve as a place to put the condiments, etc.

    It is impressive that Kat ate her entire burger.

    You may also keep the poutine. As Emily said, it just seems wrong.

    The Moscow Mule, however, is welcome any time.

    Cheers!

    Like

    1. We didn’t smell any soy factories … perhaps that’s been outsourced to Mexico?

      Yes, the bun’s purposes are 1) render it finger food, and 2) hold the lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles together. Many people go so far as to FOLD the meat to make it fit. It is a better sandwich to me than the runza. But neither is in the same league with a shrimp poboy on crisp French bread, dressed.

      Jackson

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s