By Jay Kerner
I realize how many people we angered, when we trademarked the phrase, “St. Joseph, Missouri-Tenderloin Capital of the World!” Didn’t mean it as a slight against anyplace else. We just really like them here, and great ones can be found all over.
But ever since we started, I get one question, over and over: “What’s your favorite?”
Oh, no! Not falling in that trap!
I like most of them. Again, we’re spoiled with good tenderloins here! In every type and style!
I knew people here were crazy about them to near fisticuffs, arguing their favorite and bad-mouthing others. Heaven help a local place trying to pass off a fritter as the real deal.
But I didn’t know how many other crazies were out there till I joined the Pursuing Pork Tenderloins group on Bookface. Oh my! It’s like tenderloin porn. 35k members and climbing, posting pic after pic of gorgeous “Midwest Gold” on a tiny bun.
We planned a World Tenderloin Championship for this summer, but pandemics have proven problematic for festivals. Our goal was to do a massive roadie in June, and sample the best in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, too, inviting the best to our event. Culminating in the crowning of this year’s champ. So much for that.
But we still see all the posts. And how passionately people feel about the subject. How they’ll argue about the biggest, the best coating, the perfect thickness. Along with all the comments about tenderloins of the past. Places locked in folks’ gastrointestinal memories.
That’s when I started figuring out part of the attraction; it’s a holy grail thing!
We’re all constantly searching for the one we remember! The perfect size. The exact thickness. The breading just right. Dressed out, how you like it.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the change from animal fat to vegetable oil. Clearly is was bad for your health, but damn! Was it ever delicious as hell?! (In my opinion, nothing cooked in veggies, has ever stacked up taste wise.)
If you’re like me, you can still smell and taste your long-gone favorite tenderloin in your mind. (Mine is the classic from Miller’s Grill in St. Joe, sadly, gone for decades.) And because so many, many score of fabulous examples are out there, we ignore the tiny voice in the back of our minds, telling us we’ll never completely find it.
So, we search. We must! Because it might still be out there somewhere!
And in the meantime, “oh, so close, but not quite a cigar”, is wonderful and still better than anything else.
So, here’s to all of you, my fellow Tenderloin Crusaders! Keep posting your tiny toothpick flags on the map, directing your brethren to your found treasures.
The Best Tenderloin in the World? You already know the answer! It’s that one you remember. The one all others are measured against. Or, then again, maybe it’s the next one?