What food do YOU think Indiana is known For? This is a tough question for me but every time I am asked I come back to the same thing. Chef Thom England of Ivy Tech Community College’s culinary arts program agrees and shared a bit about this and an initiative for 2014 that involves DigIN and local chefs and food personalities.
When people are asked what food they associate with Indiana, answers don’t come quick. People in Indiana will say pork tenderloin. Indiana restaurants that regularly feature local foods are now working together to feature ingredients that are seasonal and have a significant history to the state, beyond that fried treat. Each month, chefs across the state will concentrate on one specific item and educate customers about how important it is to the state.
Dig IN is a not-for-profit for the promotion of Indiana food and agriculture. Many people now if for the great festival they put on at the end of the summer in White River State Park. But, they are out year round connecting farmers and chefs.
In the month of March, Dig IN chefs will heavily feature Indiana pork. This is the item most people were quick to associate with the state. It has a long history here. Nic Mink, food anthropologist with Butler University states, “Indiana was a state, quite literally, built on the backs and the fats of swine. Specifically, the Southeast corner of the state, an area extending roughly between Richmond, Indianapolis, and Louisville was the center of the American hog economy during the first half of the 19th century. There, Hoosiers fattened pigs by the millions, producing in some years about 1/4 of all hogs raised in the emerging nation. There, too, pork became a centerpiece of Indiana cuisine, adopted in roasts, used for stews, and baked in pies.” There are 8.5 Million pigs raised in Indiana now. With 70% of those being raised on small family farms, Hoosiers can say, pork runs through our hearts.
Pork can be prepared in many ways. From the traditional pork tenderloin sandwich to braised cheeks, Indiana chefs love the stuff. Stop in to most any local restaurant and you will find pork on the menu. Pork is one of those ingredients that you can just simply cook and let the natural flavors come out. Thom England from Ivy Tech Community College’s culinary arts program said, “I love that chefs are really showcasing the quality of the Indiana Pork as they make the dishes. They aren’t just covering them up with tons of sauce; they are letting the star shine.”
In the month of March, visit your favorite restaurant that features local food and see what they have on the menu. As you find your favorite, post them on Dig IN’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @digindiana sites. Or, go to digindiana.org for Indiana pork recipes to try at home.
March = pigs
April = asparagus
May = Strawberries
Jun = Peaches
July = Sweet Corn
August = Indiana Bounty/Dig IN festival
Let me know what YOU think? What do YOU think is the food of Indiana?