Pittsburgh is the second largest city in Pennsylvania and is the county seat for Allegheny County. It can truly be called “a Renaissance City.”
It is also what I call a “Vertical City,” with 700 sets of stairs and two inclines to make the city accessible within itself. The highest elevation in Pittsburgh is 1,370 feet and the lowest is 710 feet. The actual area of Pittsburgh, including land and water, is 58.3 square miles. Less than three miles is covered by water, but it is known as ”the City of Bridges” with 446 bridges connecting the city.
Pittsburgh is where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers meet to form the Ohio River, hence being called Three Rivers. These waterways are a vital link of connecting the Atlantic coast to the Midwest.
French explorer/trader Robert de La Salle was the first European on his 1669 expedition down from Canada to the area. Those French explorers sure got around when it came to setting this country. This expedition led him down to the Ohio Watersheds, which were inhabited by the Shawnee along with several other tribes of Native Americans. It was the Dutch who actually settled the area.
As Pittsburgh grew and developed, it became a magnet for Eastern Europeans who migrated through Ellis Island. Due mostly to industrial growth, jobs were plentiful. In 1875, Carnegie Steel was founded. In 1901, Andrew Carnegie merged several companies into U.S. Steel. In the 1940s, Pittsburgh became the destination for unskilled African American.
Besides steel, the area became a mecca and leader in many fields, including aluminum, glass, shipbuilding, petroleum, sports, transportation, automobiles, later on with computers and electronics and, of course, their food. Pittsburgh is a diamond carved out of chunk of coal.
In the early years Pittsburgh air was polluted due to the industry growth. When my Baba Bandzak Klimcho first came to this country, she lived in Pittsburgh. She told a story of how the wash hanging out to dry would get dirtier as it hung out on the clothesline; black soot would settle on the wash, especially notable on the sheets.
Pittsburgh, once a polluted industrial town, launched a clean air and civic revitalization. This campaign was successful, and today Pittsburgh has the most certified “green” buildings in the U.S. There are 30 skyscrapers (nine of which are 500 feet) alone in a revitalized downtown area called the Golden Triangle.
Cultural events are widespread, and there are 68 universities and colleges. It is home to the fifth largest bank in the U.S. and headquarters to 300 U.S. law firms. The list keeps growing.
Ethnic neighborhoods are still the mainstays of the city. The foods of this city are reflected by five neighborhoods: North Side, South Side, East End, West End and the Golden Triangle.
A popular way of preparing a sandwich is called Pittsburgh style, where French fries and coleslaw are inside the sandwich and not an aside.
Pittsburgh has a long connection with food. Besides ethnic foods of the residents, it is known for the Clark Bar, Heinz Ketchup, Iron City Beer and the Klondike Bar. But, it is best known for chipped cropped ham. In 1933, Isaly’s Family Store introduced this finely chopped ham sandwich. Cropped ham and chipped cropped ham is very popular in this part of Pennsylvania.
A favorite of Eastern Europeans is a noodle and cabbage dish called Haluski (there are several was to spell it). Anyway you spell it is good. The following is my mother’s recipe for the dish. It is so well received that it is sold at public food concessions.
Huluski (Cabbage & Noodles the Hungarian Way)
• ¼ cup butter or margarine
• ½ cup chopped onions
• 4 cups chopped or sliced cabbage
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon pepper
• 8 ounce package egg noodles
• 1 to 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (optional)
Sauté onions in butter/margarine in a large skillet. Add cabbage to onions; sauté for 5 minutes or until crisp/tender. Add salt, pepper and caraway seeds. Separately cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Add noodles into cabbage. Cook 5 minutes or more, combining everything, stirring frequently.
Chipped Cropped Ham Sandwich (Barbecue Style)
You can either shave your own chopped ham or any variety of ham or have your local deli do it for you. You can use chipped ham in many different dishes. It is great in ham and noodle casserole.
• 1 cup ketchup
• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• ¼ cup sweet pickle relish
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• Pinch black pepper
• Pinch garlic salt
• ½ teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
• 1 pound chipped ham
• 6 Kaiser Rolls
In a large saucepan, bring all of the ingredients except the ham and rolls to a simmer over low heat and continue to simmer for approximately 20 minutes. Add the chipped ham to the mixture. Continue to simmer until the meat is heated through. Serve on grilled Kaiser Rolls. This mixture freezes well.
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