It's Saturday at Pittsburgh's historic Strip District, an area stuffed with mom-and-pop businesses, gourmet food stores and offbeat gift shops. The outdoor seating, international foods, homemade clothing and artifacts and even high-end, imported spices and cheeses lend this neighborhood an almost European feel.
"It's just a wonderful, gritty environment ... there's a sense of discovery," said Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip, a nonprofit group that promotes the area. "It's Pittsburgh's favorite neighborhood."
Pittsburgh is a city of nearly 90 neighborhoods, each with its own story. But the Strip District is one of the oldest, sporting a history that combines the industrial past with the hip image Pittsburgh is trying to portray today.
A trip to the Strip isn't complete without a stop at Parma, home of Pittsburgh's best commericially available prosciutto and my favorite kielbasa. My father-in-law ships to me a package of Parma kielbasa for me to enjoy during the Steelers football season. Each Sunday, I think of my home as Little Pittsburgh, Colorado.
The Strip District is the tip of the iceberg for Pittsburgh's unique food economy. Perhaps the restaurant scene won't wow any outsiders with refined cosmopolitan tastes, but the culture and traditions of the Burgh make the city a special experience. Consider this article in the Pittsburgh Quarterly about the region's formal and informal producers of prosciutto, a food artform. I would think that a party sampling the prosciutto cured in someone's garage is the pinnacle of Rust Belt Chic.