The Forks blog

'It was perfect'

Written by Bob Batz Jr. on


Some of the best food writing in Post-Gazette's Thursday Food & Flavor section comes from our readers, who regularly send us real hand-written or type letters as well as emails, like the one about the Pittsburgh icon, the BBQ ham sandwich, that one reader recently sent in response to Rebecca Sodergren's original story. That reader included the image above.

The first round of reader responses to Rebecca's story brought in more responses, including this typed-on-a-typewriter (ask your grandparents, kids) gem from Beverly Kerr of McCandless:

"My barbecue recipe was passed on to me in 1947 by a girl (Adamae) with whom I worked at the Farmers Deposit National Bank at Fifth and Wood streets in Pittsburgh and we have been enjoying those barbecues ever since.

"Our Isaly's was in the Northway Mall from the 1950s on and their chipped ham became a barbecue staple at our table. They used Sugardale pressed ham for chipping and there was no substituting for quality and taste.

"There was an element of fun in buying the ham there, as well. The deli counter was manned by two young fellows. I would approach the meat case and ask (as did others), 'May I see the ham today?' Invariably, the fellow would turn to the other and politely say, 'Would you like the honor of showing the ham today?' One would then take the block of pressed ham from the meat case and hold it out for me to see. Of course, it was perfect.

"We relocated from Pittsburgh to Atlanta for a few years during the 1960s and discovered that chipped ham was not local fare. My folks always brought some for us from Isaly's when they visited. (They also brought a Victory Brand braunschweiger from the North Side Packing Co.) Ahhhhh! Home sweet home!


1/2 bottle Heinz ketchup (14-ounce glass bottle)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon clear jelly (grape or apple)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of salt and pepper

Mix ingredients in a saucepan and heat until smooth and hot. Add 1 pound of chipped ham.
Serves 8.

Mrs. Kerr signs off the recipe with, "How sweet it is."

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