Recipe Box: Saltine-crusted pork tenderloin is the Midwest on a plate

Has the American Midwest earned a reputation as a remedial, cracker-barrel cooking culture? There’s some truth in this. We are not Northeast sophisticates, West Coast avant-garde, the smothered-and-fried soulfulness of the South, nor do we have the sea bounties of either coasts. We are hearty kinfolk and constantly cold, and we like our food buttered, pickled, cheese-filled, casseroled, and of homogenous texture. But that is no pejorative. There is pride in our lack of pretense. And when it comes to the deliciousness of our foods (some of it, anyway), the plainness of preparation can belie the power of its directness-to-pleasure-centers.

I am one such West Coast effete (Seattle, no less) who moved to the Midwest 12 years ago and slowly felt my DNA mutate into niceties and corn syrup. My wife is an unadulterated Midwesterner, impossibly polite, and the first time she prepared a family recipe I struggled to …

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