Stumbling Down Memory Lane: Saturday Nights.

So, Robbie sidetracked me yesterday as I was going deep into something that did not need to be pursued--and had me rambling on about Saturday nights (actually, because last night was a Saturday night) and pushed me to take you to this point in my life--so sour, dour and my goodness, so happy to have that in the way back machine, versus my life today. Tombo, my brother will relate as he is instrumental to the fun we could derive from being parked in the Saturday night purgatory we were left in.

Saturday nights were often the night my parents would go out to dinner at their friend's house. No kids allowed. No kids invited. Kids not optional. Matter of fact, kids were never optional. These parties were couples in party clothes, drinking too much and having some sort of showy food (aspic, for example)....listening to some crazy music and the like. If they were convening at your house, "the kids" needed to come downstairs in their jimmy jammies and kiss all the smelly adults before they were bundled up to go to bed. It was a progression from one friend to the other...the kissing of people I did not know...It was very odd and uncomfortable...It was cute when we were younger, but college-aged was pushing it. No really. The concept of hiding in the shower was not an alien one.

Prior to the Saturday Party, There was lots of preparation from more makeup and perfume, to nicer clothing and of course the babysitter (who was part of the scene even until I was through college). I lived in a household that was brimming with rules (spoken and unspoken)--from how to behave to the mandated nights out curfew, and lights on wake up. No variations, no changes, no choices...so get in line. Saturday nights, when my parents went out, was formatted within an inch of it's life whether you liked it or not, this was the program. The t.v. was the same parents or not...but it was flavored by not having the grown ups around....but tragic within the context of my looking at this as a parent and as an older (56 yr old) child. Here's what it was.

Before the sitter came, the singular "babysitter night food" was taken out of the freezer, arranged on a cookie sheet and baked at 350˚ for about an hour. This food, too, was formatted. We always had frozen pot pies (from Krogers-- house brand at $.35 a piece (read--they were cheap) with a choice of either beef, turkey or chicken. They all were sublime with a side of some tortured frozen vegetable (green beans, peas)...and that was dinner. There was a trick to eating the pies--something I took up the gauntlet to master every Babysitter night...which was to eat the pie without in any way sullying the perfect foil pie plate (which were saved to use to kill the slugs in the garden with flat beer). I would eat the top--lifting it off without crumbing it, dish out the inside and then after that, scraping the inside crust of any gravy enriched goo, and then finish by eating the remainder of the crust that touched the pan. The pie was mainly flour and crisco, with the inside being mainly a flavored gravy with a few peas, frozen carrots and a chunk or two of meat like material. It was so predictable just like the rest of the evening....but what a way to start this adventure. It set the stage for all of us to settle in for an evening in front of the black and white t.v. and the lack of Saturday programming that existed in Pittsburgh for that time slot and day.

I do not know what it was about t.v. in Pittsburgh during  the mid sixties to mid seventies but it was limited to 4 channels (one being Channel 13--"Educational T.V") and the others being very regionally based and programmed. One show was hokier than the other...and insipid, dumb, or very vernacular--and that was the stuff I was most attracted to. Saturday nights were prime for vernacular t.v. that much like watching St. Peter being hung upside down on a cross, or Saint Lucy showing us her eye that had been taken out of her head, it took patience, a skewed sense of humor and of course sheer boredom to make it seem as spectacular as it was.

The only shows on Channel 13--the educational channel were "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" (a hometown, Pittsburgh favorite with all sorts of inside banter about places we know, people we know etc.), Julia Childs and her cooking, those oil painter guys, and that was about it.  The "E" in "ETv" was horrifying--with badly dressed educators educating in a very old school way via a new media. On the other channels, some of the sidebar shows--particularly the claymation, "Davy and Goliath" (a vision of what could happen if the religious people ran the networks with sickeningly sweet homilies about how to be a "good" person with the call and response by a dopey dog and his socially conscious, friendly white boy owner. Talk about exclusionary. Gumby and Pokey were in the same vein, but their didn't have as obvious a message and the sheer wonder that someone had approved the concept of a kid who looked like a used pink pearl eraser with legs and arms--made anything seem possible.


1970s Flashback: Bill Hillgrove appears on the game show "Bowling for Dollars" with host Nick Perry on WTAE-TV Channel 4 in Pittsburgh.

We would open the evening generally with an hour of the regional, "Bowling for Dollars" with Nick Perry (who in the future was known for his "666" lottery scam (1980) , a t.v. show that highlighted regional bowlers, competing for a cash prize in front of a studio audience. No duh. Every show at that time had a studio audience on WTAE. As none of us knew how to bowl, how to score or anything having to do with bowling, it was a bit confounding to figure out who was ahead, who was winning etc...but the shirts, the verve, the energy and the way they could fling these heavy balls and yet  end with their fingers pointing to the ceiling and their back leg jauntily kicked in the air was way beyond all of us. Plus, there was alway corny Nick Perry there in his plaid jacket to remind us of what fun we were having...and how fun Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers were.

Alas, we were stuck in the living room at 130 Yorkshire Road with a dog ready to bite us (he did, inevitably), filled up with pot pies and wishing we could be in the audience with Nick and everyone. It was an impossibility that we didn't even brooch with our keepers. No One would go see Bowling let alone anything else. We would stand in front of the t.v. dumbfounded trying to be  those bowlers without the balls, or lanes--posing in front of an 18"  black and white t.v. We would really try to make this fun...but somehow missed the inside joke (as usual).

After "Bowling for Dollars" and our warm-up in the corner of the living room, striking the poses that the bowling pros did while they pitched their balls down shiny alleys for cash prizes--we would wait for the real beginning of the evening....an hour of Studio Wrestling.

Bruno Sammartino. Isn't he quite the thing.

Bruno Sammartino. Isn't he quite the thing.

It seems that we were in the middle of something singularly Pittsburgh, watching Studio Wrestling every Saturday evening after dinner (babysitter or not). I googled it...just to make sure my memory and imagination sync'ed with any reality and it did. Studio Wrestling was distinctly a Pittsburgh thing...the true predecessor of WWF (World Wrestling Federation) who produced the megastars of Hulk Hogan, Jessie Ventura, The Sheik, The Ultimate Warrior, Macho Man Randy Savage, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was the firm foundation that this entertainment leviathan and feeder for national politics was hatched--and there we were, at 130 Yorkshire Road, riding the wave of this nascent media segment with focus and determination not to be left behind.

We would thrill to the likes of Bruno Sammartino, the pride of Pittsburgh, or Andre the Giant--winging each other around, flinging themselves off the ropes to flatten his opponent on the mat. We loved the flying Samoans and their moves of jumping off the ropes to simulate hitting the other guy in the head with their knees. There were the tag team events, and the single events. Each guy bigger and badder than the other--each wearing skimpy bathing suit type bottoms along with leather high top shoes. They were not terribly built (especially by today's standards)--but they had "the moves"....which you can see from this video which included a whole lot of bouncing around on the ring floor (which must have had some kind of engineering to make it that bouncy). We would get up on the furniture and bounce--jumping off (sometimes a little to close to the coffee table) trying to nail either my sister or brother and bring them down like the Flying Samoans...or Tom would get me in one of the famous neck holds and wrestle us to the ground. We too could be wrestlers--right there in the living room...maybe without the audience but much like bowling, we could be there.

We loved it...with the loud, crude people shouting, the forceful brutish referees, the dapper announcers and commentators and the camera man panning the audience for all the odd people who were there, savoring the majesty of Studio Wrestling instead of being in their beige living room.

You tube bringing us a little snippet of the action. I love how bouncy these guys get.

Andre the Giant, doing his thing in the ring.

Andre the Giant, doing his thing in the ring.

Wikipedia takes us there:

"At one time, this show was considered one of the top wrestling shows in the United States. Even though the show started on Saturdays at 6 p.m., the lines started to form around the TV station at noon. The show was so popular that it revived the dying Pittsburgh wrestling market. No wrestling promotion can survive without a strong television presence because pro wrestling is not routinely covered by mainstream media."

 

Let's just put it there. It was art. It was inspiration. It was a pure sport. This was all pre-corporate tie in. There were no studio wrestling promotions at George Aikens (the foul chicken roasting store) or the bastion of pureness, Islays, home of the sublime chip chop ham, milkshakes, hot dogs and of course, the classic, the Klondike. There were no billboards, or even t.v. promos for this wonder. You either were into studio wrestling or you weren't-- You were either insiders or clueless. It was a sport of and for the people...though the crowd at church and the crowd at school were not aficionados. Candidly, this is the first time I have gone public with my love and admiration of the sport as it was too personal and too outside the box...but  YOLO ("you only live once"). And now you know. I hope you do not think any less of me. I would say, studio wrestling helped to form me, my loves and my inspiration.

Truly...I have always held up the posters for wrestling at that time (that I would see downtown on some of my solo safaris hopping around the Diamond Market on Market Square or down Liberty Avenue near the strip joints) some of the best graphic design (vernacular/ and primitive) out there. I have often aspired to their goodness though my corporate clients would have nothing of the sort. Look at the simple use of two color. The sheer excitement that Bruno presents with his active stance, his focus and determination, the key messaging components, easy to read and remember... After all... who would debate the clear statement that Bruno Sammartino was "Strongest Man in the World".  I sure wouldn't.

So, coming down from that sheer excitement was the final stop on our evening's tableaux vivant was the Piece of Resistance...a show that had a studio audience albeit it was not from Pittsburgh (though it was from the fabric of our city that the success of this show was sewn (I would think Buffalo, Detroit, Scranton PA, and others were also key)....it was the divine and truly artful, "Lawrence Welk Show". What wasn't to love? And, his music either stunned with amazement and frightened or off your feet to polka with the best of them. We Eddys did not nor do we polka at our weddings or parties let alone do the "Chicken Dance"-- though I secretly wanted to...so Uncle Lawrence brought that unmentionable into our living rooms--and what with the management being out of the house, we could pretend.

The adorable Lennon Sisters on Lawrence Welk. So sweet your eyeballs got cavities.

The adorable Lennon Sisters on Lawrence Welk. So sweet your eyeballs got cavities.

There was fun Lawrence whose smile scarily spread from ear to ear, with his hair combed back and held in place by too much pomade. He matched his suit to those in the band and to all the festive "kids" , members of his "Musical Family". We got to know them all...Bobby and Cissy, the Champagne Ladies, the insipid Lennon Sisters with their sugary sweet voices matched with insane (!!) hair and costumes, Arthur Duncan, the amazing tap dancer was often featured, but somehow his placement felt very odd and off-putting as he was the only (I mean only) person of color in the entire show.

And there was always Lawrence ready to transition the acts, announce the new performer or when necessary, step in and do the honors with his accordion in leading his musical family in songs, dances or both. One could never resist the holidays with the Welk Family (ouch) as it was such an amazingly pure, American, and wholesome good time that we at 130 Yorkshire knew nothing about. It was a dream we could not even imagine let alone live. No one was wearing plaid hostess skirts, nor were the boys/men in matching jackets. No one was gathered around the professionally decorated Christmas Tree, singing Irving Berlin in a meaningfully, sincere way.

Our mom did not dress up like these women and present us with toasty casseroles in colorful, painted opal glass dishes with every hair in place, and a smile on her face. Our dad did not beam like our adopted uncle, Uncle Lawrence Welk--leading us in either prayer or song to just keep the fun coming....or even emulate our other uncles, wicked Uncle Nick Perry who teased us to like bowling or the other, Uncle Bruno Sammartino, who had no problem taking on the brutes, but still being a gentleman after all of that.

It was Saturday night...and we could hang  with our Saturday family. We were thankful we didn't have to kiss strangers wearing our pajamas. We were thankful to be an audience to a world we didn't live in...preparing for the already formatted day of Sunday.  And of course, there was always next week to look forward to.

 

Back to Ham

A member of the QNation scolded me because I was not on the ball and chatting with you all. I apologize, but work has gotten out of hand and thus, the non-paying work slips off the desk. I will attempt to be more sympathetic to your needs, and even if its not much, say hi with a paragraph and or even just post a hint of what is on the drawing board so you know I am still somewhere breathing.

To that, I was cranky coming home from our weekend in Kittyville. It was Easter, I was tired and pissed off at one of the common themes I am often angry about...and pick at it when I am tired. So, my clever husband turned the conversation around and had me laughing and doing research in the way back machine such that I want to share it with you. Be prepared. This roll has to do with Pittsburgh, Ham, Easter, and a very uptight club. Ham is the underlying tie...so hold on tight as we are going to start with the sublime and move to the ridiculous. 

Growing up, we didn't eat out. My mom cooked, packed lunches for the girls (the boys bought their lunch at school and my dad had free range of all the culinary opportunities downtown...with discussion of what was on the lunch menu every night at dinner just to keep the conversational ball going with him). My mom cooked dinner, made soup, made breakfasts and pretty much handled all of the shopping and prepping. She was not raised to cook--having a cook at her house growing up--and even through my childhood with my grandmother she was unable to even open a box or a can to make something to eat. The Cook had Sundays off (poor woman...) so my Grandmother and Grandfather would either take us to the Club for lunch and then have something exotic like a bucket of chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken that made an exquisite add to the melee at lunch at their house every day.

My grandmother made lists, made menus and did a bit of the matching column a with column b to make leftovers at lunch. She knew how to order and how to buy the groceries...but that is where it stopped. So rolling it forward, my mom had to learn from scratch how to cook--and she did with all of us as her test kitchen. Nothing was ever thrown away...so we ate the good with the ghastly (which she would never acknowledge as bad). As we got older, she got to be better and better and we, the kids, learned how to cook from her by acting as her sous chefs from the time we could look over the top of the counter and hold a dull or dull serrated knife. But this is all a different story for a different time.

For a treat we were sometimes taken out for, as my dad would say "a hotdog" which meant either a hotdog or a chip chopped ham sandwich at Islay's. Islay's was a Pittsburgh tradition, a deli counter with prepared foods that had hotdogs, milk shakes and sold a form of shaved, barbeque ham (better, processed pork product) that you could have prepared for you at the store (to eat in) or take home to doctor with your own Ketchup mixture. Islay's also was the creator of that Pittsburgh culinary tradition known beyond the 'Burgh, the Klondike Bar. Islay's was as synonymous with the real deal Pittsburgh cuisine as Lemon Blennd (a personal favorite) and the now well known Primanti's sandwiches with cole slaw and fries smashed in on top of a murder of eggs, capicola and american cheese (which we would partake of after midnight when they would open for the truckers bringing produce to deliver to the Strip). I get off topic. Ham.

So, shaved ham, or "chipped chopped ham" is a mystery meat shaved from a perfectly square block of pinkness. There is absolutely nothing that says ham. It is Processed and about meatness...but reallly it is more about the sauce (combined barbeque sauce, a little vinegar, a little mustard and a ton of ketchup heated up with the meat and generously plopped on a chintzy white, soft hamburger bun (no seeds, nothing interesting please). The styling is simple, white bun, messy hot meat drenched in ketchup (essentially) with the top of the bun smashed on top and the works put on a thin paper plate that was not designed for that endurance. But it was a treat and on those special Saturdays when we would "rubberneck" with my dad and mom or actually have something to do--it knocked the day up a notch to have a trip to Islay's with this poor man's ham barbeque sandwich thrown into the mix. 

Mystery writer, Cleo Coyne waxes about the Chopped Ham sandwich (with a recipe no less and instructions on how to get the ham just right). Here she is for you>>

Back to ham. Know this. Pittsburgh is a big ham town. Why wouldn't it be? It is a town filled with nuggets and neighborhoods of nationalities that rarely leach across the street from one zone to the next, but the Polish, Hungarians, Czechs, Bohemians, Germans, English, Scots, Irish, French, Italian, Slavic, all embrace ham in their own way--and as you all know--there is ham, and then there is Easter ham.

Growing up, there was also the oddity of meat in a can, the canned ham -- sometimes called "Danish Ham". I pitied the Danes as this was the ham they "had to eat"--though god knows if canned ham had anything beyond marketing that had to do with the cool Danes and their good design. Somehow I doubt it. Ham was ham (prosciutto and lovely local ham were not on that horizon until much later when I started to cook). There was cheap ham (the blocks that were found in the deli case at Islay's for chip chopped ham); danish ham and then ham on the bone or boneless from the grocery store. Ham, to my mother's absolute delight, was cheap--and was something that was parsed beautifully into amazing leftovers that were easy to make from soup with the bone, to ham salad and casseroles with canned soup/noodles and bits of ham.

My mother was not limited to the Dorothy Parker famous quip: "Eternity is a ham and two people"--and frankly, with Jesus' imminent return thanks to the promises made that morning at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, it would be a miracle for us to get through the enormous hams that came home around Easter time to feed nations. Heck, who knows, we might have had leftovers to take with us to ascend to be with Jesus on the great heavenly escalator....(just like Joesph Hornes).

So, Easter, at least for my family, is the ham holiday. Thanksgiving is Turkey. Christmas is a Red Meat event. New Years was always pork because "it doesn't scratch back". Sometimes there was sauerkraut offered with Thanksgiving, and black eyed peas offered with New Years. Snopes says confirming this tradition for New Years' food:

"Food:   A tradition common to the southern states of the USA dictates that the eating of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will attract both general good luck and financial good fortune in particular to the one doing the dining. Some choose to add other Southern fare (such as ham hocks, collard greens, or cabbage) to this tradition, but the black-eyed peas are key.

Other "lucky" foods are lentil soup (because lentils supposedly look like coins), pork (because poultry scratches backwards, a cow stands still, but a pig roots forward, ergo those who dine upon pork will be moving forward in the new year), and sauerkraut (probably because it goes so well with pork).

Another oft-repeated belief holds that one must not eat chicken or turkey on the first day of the year lest, like the birds in question, diners fate themselves to scratch in the dirt all year for their dinner (that is, bring poverty upon themselves)."

This left ham for the Rebirth of Jesus and the big white bunny. If my mom didn't cook, we would do something wild and go to "The Club" for their Easter Buffet Spectacular, or me, the wildest food moment in the universe that no one paid attention to.

So the Easter schedule of events would be that we would go to Church and then follow it up with lunch and then a quiet afternoon at home. "Church" was The Shadyside Presbyterian Church--where an intimate gathering of thousands (no kidding, this place is a Richardson Romanesque Barn (designed by H.H. Richardson) that even today on the Shadyside site they say) (remember, this is marketing):

"Some might see our impressive stone building as intimidating and surmise that it houses an affluent congregation that might be cold and unfriendly, but we’re eager for you to encounter Christ through some of the warmest and most welcoming folks you’ll ever get to know."

Interior: Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA Please note the Christmas Trees in the altar area for scale....

Interior: Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, PA
Please note the Christmas Trees in the altar area for scale....

I tend to think they are right in the lead in of that sentence. When I was growing up, the deacons wore cut aways and white gloves every Sunday to greet people at the door. With white gloves and white ties, spit shined black shoes,and hands at their backs at leisure. Not super friendly. No, not intimidating at all. These dudes would cruise down the aisles (about 3 in the middle and sides) along with the balcony and pass sterling silver offering plates to the fur coat wearing Republicans who had their self-assigned places in the sanctuary. They would then proceed in lockstep up from the back of the church to the altar (surrounded by bright gold tilework reminiscent of Byzantine {read the Emperor Constantine) tessilation. The huge pipe organ would shake and blast...and the money was laid down on the altar (I assume that was symbolic for the holy blessing with all that theatre). Easter had huge urns of fragrant Easter lilies, and great pious hymns of ressurection and rebirth. The paid choir (many from the Pittsburgh Opera) would soar and herald the greatest day of the Christian Calendar.

And all of this happened on Easter Sunday before lunch--so if your stomach wasn't clenching from hunger, it was out of angst for your inadequacy, oddness or inability to process this odd intersection of conservative people, fur coats, professional choir and organ, silver offering plates and then the discussions on humility and poverty. Never seemed to balance out for me. Loved the theatre and the guilt though. Reality was not present in that sanctuary.  So, rest assured, by the end of that hour or so, you were ready for cold compresses and the fainting couch, but the thrill of being taken to "The Club" for Easter lunch completed the celebration.

So, off we would go to the unassuming "Club" which was less than 10 minutes from the church. We would all peel off to the various cloakrooms adjoining the restroom with chintz sofas, hairbrushes, all sorts of smells and kleenex to "freshen up" and make sure that your knit dress wasn't climbing up your pantyhose clad legs thanks to remarkable static cling or that nothing was hanging out or out of alignment. We would adjust and smooth. We would hang up our coats in the coatroom and progress elegantly on the celery colored carpet surrounded by quiet, tasteful wallpaper and chippendale reproduction furniture.

We would meet the boys and go find our table--reserved for all of us, grandparents or extra friends that would come along. The pre-food activities were drinking for the grown ups and some sort of prescribed "fun" for the kids. The grown-ups stayed upstairs in the dining room area, having drinks and nuts while we where shoo'ed downstairs into the darker regions to make noise and give the grown-ups a break.

The Club would have a person in a bunny rabbit suit there to hand out jelly beans (scary just like a clown) and the other thing for the "kids" was some sort of other "entertainment"--either someone doing card tricks (generally someone not too skilled so it was boring) or a magician but my favorite was the year they had a clown (you know I am horrified of clowns, right?) who also was a stripper during his off "non clown" gigs...and this clown promoted both of his skills openly to all of us "kids". There we were with this clown who had a shaved chest, arms and armpits with big muscles and a tight vest on in addition to the rest of the regular clown stuff (big shoes, makeup etc). Creepy doesn't even begin to describe it. Entertaining, Yes, but not given this particular context and audience.. Not the wholesome, "I have my monogram on everything" kind of way. Let's just say, this was a detail The Club faltered on, but they made up for it in the piece of resistance upstairs in the dining room. I loved it and still do, that this sort of fumble went way over the heads of the grown-ups and many of the kids too. I love it that this way creepy clown stripper ended up in our midst--really off the reservation for all of us...lifting the corner of the tent into a world that did not extend into our prescribe universe framed up by church, school, The Club, Camp and occasional "hot dogs" at Islay's. 

So, when lunch was ready, we were herded back to our table, our home base, first there were the classics. Salad or Vichyssoise? Vichyssoise, of course! Who doesn't like to drink gallons of leek and potato flavored heavy cream with freeze dried chives sprinkled on the top. Then, off to the buffet! The buffet was seemingly miles long--endless lengths of starched white linens with men wielding knives, carving beasts, ladies doling out vegetables and crispy little potato sticks or little swirled piped gems of mashed potatoes, browned with cheese slid onto the side of the plate as a little amuse bouche. Of course there was asparagus with hollandaise. Of course, there was creamed spinach. Of course there was a succinct moment with puff pastry shells and seafood newburg. And then there were the display hams.

"Cold Glazed Baked Ham" www.http://clickamericana.com/topics/food-drink/cold-glazed-baked-ham-recipe-flowers-1965

"Cold Glazed Baked Ham"
www.http://clickamericana.com/topics/food-drink/cold-glazed-baked-ham-recipe-flowers-1965

Stop right there. So, you get the scene...its a buffet line with all sorts of delicate little things encouraged and placed on your plate. There were big strong men carving hams, turkeys, lamb. There was seafood in a cream based stew. It was all very right and tight...and then someone forgot to manage someone's meds, and there was (every year, you could set your calendar by them) a huge arrangement of display hams (and a few turkeys thrown in for fun). This meat art was beyond my wildest dreams--with hams slathered in pastel colored goo and encased in gelatin--with decorations in between of flowers and fruit. The image above is way too tasteful than 2 dozen or so hams at the club that were vertically mounted, standing tall like sentinels in lemon yellow, a bluish pink, pastel orange ('creamcycle"), and even a soft blue with decorations of carrots, peppers in all colors, greens and pimentos to tell the decorative story. A ham backwall to the Easter feast!

Forget the tacky ice carving. Forget frills on the lamb chops. This was the ham version of carved watermelons on cruise ships, or the ham version of carved radishes. And what was this thing called? I was entertained and challenged to find the name and process for this extravagant food art and preparation--but somewhere between Green and Bainbridge NY, I bumped into "Jambon Chaud Froid" detailled by none other than Martha Stewart. Of course, Ms. Stewart makes this Disneyland ham prep tasteful and glorious in her recipe. Then, noodling around some more, found that there was another approach, probably the one the Austrian chefs at the Club used (c. 1965 is this recipe) with mayonnaise (a lovely base for pastel food coloring) and seems a bit less fussy than the approach Ms. Martha suggests.

Who ate these display hams after all the tables were cleared and the clown went home? Who enjoyed the spectacle of hammigoodness that only the very few of us had a chance to witness and only one or two to remember? Who is recreating this marvelous technique today to  enchant our children and friends with all the wonder we can bring to meat?

Is ham still a Pittsburgh hallmark now that Islay's is gone and there is no home for chiip chopped ham? Are we too big in our gourmet boots to relish this culinary folk art? I look back in awe (and shock) at this rare moment that spun around the central moment of the Christian calendar. 

I am totally onboard with eternity with a ham. At least there is enough to keep us all amused.