February 2009

It feels like a holiday but without the closure of an established greeting.  There’s an acknowledged sentiment after a transaction of twenty-four cracked-wheat rolls, twenty-four Kaiser rolls and three baguettes.  Party.  Excess eating.  Lots of soppy foods, but does a bakery worker turn that acknowledgment into something more than “thank you” and “goodbye?”  A few customers gave it a go.

“Good luck to our Steelers,” one says.
Another throws in the accent for good measure, “Go stillerz!”
In less than twelve hours, this city will be a ghost town.

Say “God is dead” or “there is no God” and one could escape Pittsburgh unscathed.  Say “the Steelers are dead” or quite simply, “I don’t care about the Steelers,” and one surely risks a hot metal death for those words are blasphemous in this steel town!  This is Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are a red, yellow and blue trinity, a sixth return of the messiah.

Reverence for this game and for this television program matches, if not exceeds, the storefront sign reverence for major holidays.  “We will be closing early on Sunday, February 1st, so our staff can cheer on the Steelers.”  This is the management’s pep rally way of saying, “It would be more profitable to throw money down the drain than pay multiple employers to be here after the entire city divides and conquers house parties or bar monopolizing (bar “hopping” would risk a missed xx yard run or whatever critical events one misses in changing bars).

Had I passed multiple churches, I venture I would have found at least one night service shortened or cancelled so parishioners could seek other “fellowship opportunities.”  Sermons may have centered on the witnessing opportunities one encounters during four quarters and several expensive commercial breaks.  Good luck convincing the die hard to convert from the Ward to The Word, especially when one might later thank “Hooked on Steelers,” rather than phonics for the gift of reading in the first place.

“Mommy what’s that word?”
“You tell me, honey.”
“Good!  Sound it out.  What does it spell, honey?”
“Ssss-tee-llll-ers.  Stee-lers.  Steelers!”
“Good honey, and what does Grandma’s hat say?”
“Excellent.  And what do Billy’s mittens say?”
“And what do ALL of daddy’s shirts say?”

And just like that, little Jenny has learned to read everything in Pittsburgh (until hockey season), a real Superbowl miracle!  While she begins her education, pre-pre gaming begins to diminish educated decisions in the rest of the city and surrounding suburbs.  Terrible towels wave from windows, horns honk, jerseyed men and women shout at other jerseyed men and women.

Admittedly, this is ridiculously entertaining, nearly contagious.  I have caught this spirit but in a way that could still get me killed were I actually to converse at any length about this game.  It’s all just a giant theme party, and theme parties are my greatest past time!

Whereas the Steelers cake customer heckled my coworker for his choice of plaid, a pattern that weaves multiple colors together, but unfortunately, none of his plaid’s weavings were acceptable Steelers colors based on her judgment.  On the other hand, I slipped under the radar.

A diagonal striping of mustard, ketchup and two shades of blue with a scoop neck and cap sleeves; a hand knit skirt of sunflower yellow and hints of an orangish gold; red and black legwarmers; a craft fair interpretation of a terrible towel in felt and puffy paint, pinned to my waistline and the cherry on top- a Steelers bandanna I found on the sidewalk and washed to make it mine.

Mike crafted the golden twist-ties into the letters S-T-E-E-L-E-R-S and used packaging tape to attach them to his plaid, which the woman added, was not only “not Steelers” but dangerously close to Cardinals colors [cardinal sin]!  The new Steelers accessory only lasted momentarily before we attached it to the bread slicer, and Mike concluded he wasn’t too concerned with being the only person in Pittsburgh not dressed in Steelers colors.

“Don’t look at me,” I said.  “I don’t care about your lacking fanaticism.  I’m just busy acting out my own personal color theme party.”

All I wanted from the Superbowl was more class, less polyester, more creative, edible food options, less food colored by yellows and reds from a numbered series.  What I wanted was a Superball, and that is exactly what I proposed to the friend who was game for avoiding the game with me.

We were so busy crafting black bean and golden corn meatballs, a yellowy cheese and black olive plate and oven baked fries (because French fries are ubiquitous in PGH), we blissfully missed the entire game.  Our only interaction with the bowl was the cheers and cries of my loyal fan and neighbor.

Said neighbor went running into the street, to light a mini firework, after the loudest of cheers.  This was our indication of victory.  A familiar face came running from the darkness at the end of the street, cleared the glowing victory embers and continued running to the real stupidity in the collegiate center of town.  While the world changed focus to burning couches and flipping cars, we quietly raised our glasses of wine and moved onto the dessert course.

Black & Gold Polamalu Cake
The Recipe


1 cup Golden Honey
¼ cup Black Strap Molasses
¼ cup Maple Honey
1 cup unsalted butter
2 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate chips
Golden Flax seed
Golden Raisins
Candied Ginger


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish.

Mix butter, honey, molasses and maple syrup in a sauce pan over low heat until butter is melted.

Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

Beat the eggs and vanilla into the sugar mixture. Add the flour mixture a bit at a time and mix until a smooth thick batter forms. Fold in the chips, as desired.

Spoon the batter to the prepared dish and spread to evenly fill the dish.

Bake until the blondies are light brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Invert onto a rack and cool completely.


Butter + Cream Cheese + Lemon Juice + Maple Syrup + Vanilla

Butter + Cream Cheese + Lemon Juice + Maple Syrup + Vanilla + Coffee + Molasses

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