I went to Iowa last week.
It’s my ancestral homeland (dad is from there). It’s filled with lovely people, open spaces, and the occasional blizzard.
Maybe more than just occasional, but still, well worth the trip. I was at the North Iowa Book Bash, and it was simply amazing. People, books, fun. It’s basically heaven (an Iowa thing for fans of Field of Dreams), and it was also the Super Official Release Date for my newest book, A Touch of Frost.
HOWEVER, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the kicker, which is this: Clear Lake, Iowa has a BENNIGAN’S.
For anyone alive in the 1990s, Bennigan’s was the place to be across much of the country, featuring (but not limited to)
The Monte Cristo Sandwich.
What’s a Monte Cristo? Allow me to describe it to you.
Take ham, cheese, turkey, cheese, and ham, place in bread.
Dunk bread in batter, like a funnel cake.
Serve covered in powdered sugar with a side of raspberry jam.
Yes. It’s that good. It’s so blissfully America I felt the urge to sing patriotic songs and quote Top Gun; it’s a fat bomb of grease and flavor and sweetness that is simply sublime.
Since the Bennigan’s is located in the hotel, we were able to walk through on the way to our author event, thus seeing the Calm Before the Storm.
Little did the staff know they would be inundated with rowdy writers and readers in a short time, as well as shouts for MORE MONTE CRISTO from certain unnamed person(s).
Iowa is beautiful in that heartbreaking way, open tinged with a hint of loneliness when you get outside town. I love it.
There was yet another winter storm on the way when I left, but that’s the Midwest– it ain’t summer until the Fourth of July, and even then the nights are cool enough to remind everyone winter isn’t gone, just resting.
I can’t wait to go back. Every time I visit, I understand why my family returned after decades abroad, and as long as there’s a Bennigan’s, to quote General Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return.”
If you haven’t gotten the new book, here it is, just click the cover to grab one. Hope you love Gideon and Sammie. I know I do.