I am a big fan of Mark Twain. I love his books, his writings, and his timeless dale-twain-quotations,my favorite of which is; Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself.

Being such a fan, I recently found myself drawn to Hannibal, Missouri, where Mark Twain spent his formative years. Twain grew up here under the alias of Samuel Clemens because he wanted to protect his identity. Imagine what it would have been like if everybody in town knew Mark Twain lived there. It would have been chaos.

I made the trip via motorcycle with my wife and another couple. We traveled through Illinois’ beautiful countryside consisting of mile after mile of corn fields that had turned brown.

Amongst the farms, we found a delightful stop for lunch. In the town of Banner, Illinois. We discovered The Goose Pit, and with a name like that how could the food be bad? Their specialty, as written prominently on their sign, was “home made tenderloins.” I wasn’t sure what this was but I had to have one.

Everybody else ordered boring hamburgers but I was getting a home made tenderloin, bound to be better than the processed variety made in a factory. When my plate arrived, I was a bit shocked. Sitting between the halves of a standard hamburger bun, was a tenderloin the size of a snare drum. This enormous disk of what I assumed to be pork, was pounded into submission and when it was big enough, it was dipped in batter and fried.

Now I have this crispy tenderloin the size of an elephant’s ear in a 4 inch hamburger bun and I didn’t know where to start. After cutting and trimming and stacking, I was able to eat my tenderloin and was not hungry for the rest of the trip.

Hannibal is the background for Twain’s renowned works, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. In fact, the characters of Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher were based on Twain’s real friends when he lived here. We went through Twain’s home, Becky’s house, and Huck’s hovel. Then we walked down the same street that Twain would have walked down when he shopped for souvenirs. My favorite was a hobby shop specializing in trains called The Train Store, and for the life of me I don’t know why they didn’t name it The Twain Store

The Mark Twain Brewing Company really has no claim to the author’s fame but offered some tasty brews which I consumed in Mark’s memory. Ironically I consumed so many that it affected my memory.

We ate at Mark Twain’s Restaurant, shopped at Mark Twain’s Store, and gassed up at Mark Twain’s Amoco station. Then it was back on the open road in search of the world’s biggest homemade tenderloin, or as Mark Twain said when referring to the tamarind, a fruit from Africa; Only strangers eat tamarinds–but they only eat them once.

Tamarind – tenderloin; tomato – tomahto.

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