Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chasing Ham

Contributed by Pops...

I have always loved ham. Baked and served with fluffy whipped potatoes and a fresh green veg. Sliced cold for summer sandwiches with lots of Hellman's mayo and a fresh, red, ripe tomato slice. And especially, sliced very thin and warmed (not fried) in a hot skillet with a bit of butter, then piled deep on a real bakery made, white bun. Add a touch of mustard and enjoy.

When I was a kid we ate a lot of ham, a little beef and absolutely no chicken....ever. I did not taste chicken until I got married. And then I couldn't talk about it at my parent's house. Not only was chicken forbidden, but so was mentioning it. Another time I'll explain that, as well as it can be explained.

Anyway, back to the ham. Last week we drove to the largest Amish settlement in the U.S.. No it's not in Pennsylvania. It is in northeastern Ohio in Holmes County. We drive up there about twice a year. We always buy baby Swiss and black wax cheddar cheese at the Guggisburg cheese factory in Charm, Ohio. You probably can guess the name of the public school in Charm. I'm not making this up: carved in stone on the front of the building are the words, "Charm School"

But, I digress. While we are in Amish country we go to the town of Trail and buy a pound or two of Trail Bologna sliced thin for the best garlicky sandwiches you can imagine. Trail Bologna is hickory smoked and to die for. Then we drive on northeast to Winesburg, Ohio (that is really the name) and head for Winesburg Meats. And that brings us back to ham and to my youth.

Winesburg meats has the absolutely best dinner hams you can imagine. I am a big fan of true Virginia hams, like Edwards, but they are what I consider a flavor kicker, not a meal. There are a few butcher shops right around where we live where you can get a really good eatin' ham, but not as good as Winesburg's. There is something really special about Winesbug Meat's hams.

Well, today after church, I sliced some of that wonderful ham very thin. Then I warmed it briefly in a hot, buttered skillet, piled it on fresh, bakery made, buttered white bread, added just a touch of horseradish mustard and began to eat. That first bite took me back to when I was about 10 years old.

When I was 10 years old, my entire family (Martha, George and my sisters Pat, Gretchen and me) regularly drove from Akron, Ohio (where George worked during World War II), to Columbus, Ohio (which was where we were from and where all our family lived.) The trip took about three hours and without fail, we broke it with a stop in Wooster, Ohio for lunch. In downtown Wooster there was a store front restaurant that served hot ham sandwiches. Not fried ham--hot ham. You may not know that there was food rationing in the U.S. during World War II. Meat was rationed. Butter was rationed. Everything was rationed. But Wooster sits on the edge of Amish country and somehow, the little store front restaurant had plenty of ham. They had butter to put on the buns, too. Nothing ever tasted so good as those hot ham sandwiches.

Today after church I felt as though I had died and gone to Wooster. Another time, I'll describe the ham loaf we make when the ham gets down to pickins. We are having it tonight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to eat a ham sandwich with corn relish on Sally Lunn bread.