Shanghai Jim (shanghai_jim) wrote in little_details,
Shanghai Jim

Traditional foods of Appalachia

One of the characters of a novel I'm writing is from deep, rural West Virginia. His family would be called hillbillies if his brother wouldn't shoot you for it. I'm setting a scene where a friend of his has just entered their big, ramshackle house in the woods for the first time. The friend is from the Northeast, also a country boy per se, but not the same kind of country. He's staring at what seems to be a particular obsessive-compulsive mania of the lady of the house for making jams and preserves. However, aside from blackberries and the recently ultra-chic "wild mountain ramps" that popped up in New York gastronomie a season or so ago, I'm not certain what uniquely or traditionally available fruits and vegetables are made into jams, jellies, pickles and whatnot, in the area. Also, I'm not sure what nationally/regionally typical fruit, like apples and peaches, actually grow or are popularly used in the regional fare.

This is merely to set the atmosphere and illuminate the mother character's coping mechanism, but it's a region that fascinates me regardless.

I searched for "West Virginia jams jellies", "West Virginia fruit preserve"/s, replaced "Appalachia" and "Appalachian" for WV, and poked around and read the Wikipedia article on Southern Cuisine with its actually relatively helpful paragraph on Appalachian cuisine.

I also am re-reading Homer Hickam's memoir "Rocket Boys" (made into the film "October Sky") which has great details about West Virginia coal country and growing up there, but his mother is not the same type as the one I'm writing about, plus he lives in an organized company town, not some cove high up in the mountains, where my character comes from.

EDIT: I totally neglected to mention the time setting: late 1940s. However, any information is welcome. Some of my searches turned up mail-order gourmet outfits, but they seemed to be marketing products popular for national tastes, so I wasn't sure about them.
Tags: 1940-1949, usa: food and drink, usa: west virginia

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