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Folklife Festival 2003 > Appalachia> Appalachian Foods
appalachian foods

Stack cakes, shuck beans, chicken 'n' dumplings, soup beans, and fried apple pies-- important regional foods of Appalachia. Add biscuits and gravy, fried apples, chow chow, and gritted corn bread, and this food reveals roots in the cultures of Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Long before peanut butter and mayonnaise found a place in Appalachian kitchens, Native Americans hunted black bear, buffalo, elk, and whitetail deer. They gathered hickory nuts, black walnuts, American chestnuts, persimmons, and fox grapes, and they domesticated corn, pumpkin, squash, and beans.

When Americans became fascinated with regional foods in the 1970s, the ingenuity and integrity of Appalachian foodways were well established and deserving of recognition. The Foxfire Book, published in 1972, was among the first to give wide national attention to Appalachian food including dried green beans or "leather britches," dried pumpkin, sauerkraut, pickled beets, souse or hog's head cheese, stew, watermelon pickles, and methods of preserving such as burying, bleaching, drying, distilling, and churning. In the mountains, communities began organizing street festivals to celebrate regional foods and established days or whole weeks to honor sorghum, apples, honey, ramps (a kind of wild garlic), maple syrup, dandelions, bean soup, fried chicken, bourbon, buckwheat, and even squirrels.

Coming to the Festival...
Susan Bridges, Meadows of Dan, Virginia
—Susan Bridges learned from older family and friends what greens and other natural sources of food to pick, mix, and eat. She has practiced natural foraging and has begun developing a business around dried and canned food products, such as wild strawberry jam and blue violet jelly.
Kim Carroll, Clintwood, Virginia
—Kim Carroll is a food product entrepreneur who cans and sells vegetables such as pickled beans, corn, and mixed pickles. Her grandmother's recipe that she uses for mixed pickles is said to be one of the best in the country.
Linda Childress, Clintwood, Virginia
—Linda Childress is a food product entrepreneur who is developing dry mixes for biscuits and varieties of gravy. She is also known for making anything out of apples, including pies, dumplings, and apple butter.
Harvey Christie, Romney, West Virginia
—Harvey Christie is a chef and owner/operator of Gourmet Central, a business that markets fine jams and jellies.
Lacey Griffey, Benham, Kentucky
—Lacey Griffey prepares a big Sunday dinner that includes fried chicken, cabbage, greens, fruit cobblers, and pies. She is part of the African-American coal mining community of the Benham-Lynch-Cumberland area of Kentucky.
Gerald Hawkins, Knoxville, Tennessee
Greg Golden, Treadway, Tennessee
—Gerald Hawkins prepares Mexican-style dishes, inspired by his Mexican-American son-in-law. He specializes in salsa that he cans and sells. He is accomanied by Greg Golden, chef and manager of Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen, a food processing facility.
Marie Junaluska, Cherokee, North Carolina
—Marie Junaluska is a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Tribe who specializes in traditional cooking of that community: chicken, greens (cabbage, mustard, and turnip), breads (lye dumplings, bean and corn bread), and potatoes (fried, boiled, and stewed).
Bennie Massey, Lynch, Kentucky
—A retired coal miner from the Benham-Lynch-Cumberland region of Kentucky, Bennie Massey is well known in his community as an expert barbeque chef.
Fred McClellan, Abingdon, Virginia
—Fred McClellan was a tobacco farmer-turned-shiitake mushroom-grower for chefs around Abingdon restaurants. He also has 20 years of food service background operating his Hillbilly Food Store business, specializing in mountain staples such as chicken, catfish, taters, breakfast biscuits, potato salad, beans, and hotdog chili
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