Thursday, July 4, 2013

If the Ponyshoe Fits...

Growing up I was a kind of picky eater. As I recall, items on my Do-Not-Eat List ranged from tomatoes and mushrooms to bananas and kiwis. I believe raisins and pears made brief appearances, as well as anything considered "hot" (like salsa) or "spicy" (like my dad's chili). Interestingly, brussels sprouts and lima beans never made the list. Once in college, however, I discovered Indian food. More specifically, lamb saagwala (spicy spinach): yum. Since then, I have gotten even more "adventurous," branching out into heretofore-unknown vegetables, as I have chronicled on these pages before (turnips? kohlrabi? kale?!). Being something of a food historian now, I try to keep an open mind. I figure I can try almost anything once. On a road trip with my in-laws recently, I had the opportunity to put this philosophy to the test with a dish original to Springfield, IL: the horseshoe.

A horseshoe is an open-faced sandwich composed of Texas toast, meat, french fries, and cheese sauce. Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, doesn't it?

It's a midwestern spin on Irish bar food, now served in Central Illinois diners and greasy spoons to the delight of carnivorous customers, who compare cheese sauces and meat selections in their online reviews. Because my arteries had started to harden already while locals described it to me after a church meeting, I resolved to order the horseshoe's smaller cousin--a ponyshoe--and split it with Dear Husband. (Our waitress said the horseshoe comes with an extra handful of fries and an extra scoop of sauce.)

Somewhere under that mountain of fries is a layer of
corned beef, and under that is a thick piece of buttery toast.
We opted for the corned beef and put the cheese sauce on the side (otherwise the fries get soggy). Also a large house salad to share (otherwise my healthy-eating conscience would wilt). DH was decidedly skeptical about the whole business, until I was able to coax him to try the cheese sauce. He pronounced this "pretty gouda" and proceeded to dunk his fries alternatingly in ketchup and cheese sauce. It really was delicious, but of course we didn't use even half of the cup that was provided. Maybe our arteries will last a little bit longer for it!

All in all, I found the horse/ponyshoe to be a delicious dish that--with the addition of a salad--makes a passing "sometime" meal to share on a special occasion.

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