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West Virginia food – does anyone else have a good example?


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13 replies to this topic

#1 David Hensley

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 09:33 PM

I was born and grew up in WV, around Beckley. Is anyone else from around there, or have you been there? I just wonder, because I almost never hear of people discussing the idea...

 

I'm of the impression the there are foodstuffs that can only be found in WV, and southern WV in particular. I'm talking about things like "Killed Lettuce" or even a pepperoni roll, which sounds ubiquitious, but apparently can only be located in WV and PA. Things like a "hot bologna sandwich" which is a grilled bologna "steak", about an inch thick...

 

I don't think for a minute that WV cuisine will change the world, but I want with all my heart to think that it will influence the way we think of cuisine. If nothing else, it might remind us that when we have nothing else to eat, we could at least make the best of it...

 

What say all of you?

 


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...


#2 gfweb

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 09:54 PM

Been to Beckley.

 

The foods of poverty can be damn tasty.  French cuisine was born of struggle and poverty. A refining process. Great stuff evolves.

 

Pepperoni roll is a good thing.


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#3 Bill Klapp

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 03:16 AM

7 loaves of white bread, available for a dollar when I was a child there in the 50s!  

 

BUT SERIOUSLY...as an Oak Hill native (a small town of 5,000 or so 17 miles from the metropolis that is Beckley!) in the south-central part of the state, I offer you pinto beans cooked with a ham hock, kale cooked the same way and doused with apple cider vinegar when serving, corn on the cob, pickled ramps, pickled pig's feet, cornbread, fried chicken, yeast rolls, potato salad, country ham and biscuits, venison when family or friends shot deer (too often!), fresh fruit pies, whole smoked hams sold in butcher paper with no water added and my personal favorite, fried bologna sandwiches, cream cheese sandwiches, the WV hot dog with "everything"-mustard, onions, chili and slaw! The drive-in/curb service phenomenon, along with drive-in movies, were, and no doubt remain, huge in semi-rural WV, and many favorite childhood memories revolve around stopping at the Pete and Bob's or King Tut drive-ins in Beckley and eating in the dark in the back seat of a Buick with your siblings or cousins.  (Oak Hill had The Mountaineer and Top Hat drive-ins, but they were not to compare to the Beckley legends, where you could get exotic things like a ham-and-cheese sandwich called the Long John and fried fish sandwiches!  I was a returning adult in the 70s before Oak Hill saw its first McDonald's...)


Edited by Bill Klapp, 18 March 2014 - 03:17 AM.

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#4 annabelle

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 01:07 PM

It sounds like a great place to grow up.  Surely you had chicken and dumplings on Sundays, not the puffy dumplings but slickers, as my granny called them.

 

I love that stuff and can't replicate it to save my life.



#5 HungryC

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 02:51 PM

It sounds like a great place to grow up.  Surely you had chicken and dumplings on Sundays, not the puffy dumplings but slickers, as my granny called them.

 

I love that stuff and can't replicate it to save my life.

RE: slickers, a neighbor taught me a pretty good cheat:  cut strips of supermarket flour tortillas (Azteca brand, in the refrigerator case) and put 'em in your simmering chicken stew.  They soften, swell, and taste pretty damn close to thin-rolled homemade dumplings.


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#6 annabelle

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 03:10 PM

That sounds like a great cheat, Celeste.  I'll give it a try.  Thanks!



#7 Bill Klapp

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 03:21 PM

It sounds like a great place to grow up. Surely you had chicken and dumplings on Sundays, not the puffy dumplings but slickers, as my granny called them.

I love that stuff and can't replicate it to save my life.

Damn! Good catch. I forgot chicken and dumplings. WV did not corner the market on most of these foods. It is just that you cannot have a Ruth's Chris steak if you want one, or caviar, or beef Wellington, or lobster unless some outsider tells you what those things are! And yeah, it was as fine a place, and a time, to grow up as I can imagine...

Edited by Bill Klapp, 18 March 2014 - 03:23 PM.

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#8 Plantes Vertes

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 10:45 PM

Primanti's (WV,  PA and FL) serve sandwiches with fries inside (chip butties for the UK contingent) that will feed a family. The biggest thing I had seen offered on a menu ever. This was the holiday when I discovered fried cheese, fried ice-cream and the concept of drive-thru; I was a teenager with an athlete's metabolism at the time so took full advantage.


Edited by Plantes Vertes, 18 March 2014 - 10:47 PM.


#9 David Hensley

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:31 PM

7 loaves of white bread, available for a dollar when I was a child there in the 50s!  

 

BUT SERIOUSLY...as an Oak Hill native (a small town of 5,000 or so 17 miles from the metropolis that is Beckley!) in the south-central part of the state, I offer you pinto beans cooked with a ham hock, kale cooked the same way and doused with apple cider vinegar when serving, corn on the cob, pickled ramps, pickled pig's feet, cornbread, fried chicken, yeast rolls, potato salad, country ham and biscuits, venison when family or friends shot deer (too often!), fresh fruit pies, whole smoked hams sold in butcher paper with no water added and my personal favorite, fried bologna sandwiches, cream cheese sandwiches, the WV hot dog with "everything"-mustard, onions, chili and slaw! The drive-in/curb service phenomenon, along with drive-in movies, were, and no doubt remain, huge in semi-rural WV, and many favorite childhood memories revolve around stopping at the Pete and Bob's or King Tut drive-ins in Beckley and eating in the dark in the back seat of a Buick with your siblings or cousins.  (Oak Hill had The Mountaineer and Top Hat drive-ins, but they were not to compare to the Beckley legends, where you could get exotic things like a ham-and-cheese sandwich called the Long John and fried fish sandwiches!  I was a returning adult in the 70s before Oak Hill saw its first McDonald's...)

Bill, you're right on the money, in everything you say!. I was just thinking out loud here, when I posted, and you answered the call.

 

I know Oak Hill, but not its eateries. Beckley was my home, and Sophia, more specifically.

I grew up with a pot of beans on the stove, or potato soup, if the beans were out. To this very day, I hate potato soup...lol  I do make a lot of pintos at home, though I wish I could find my great-grandmothers style of chow-chow, which was almost a pickle relish, but green pepper based.

I know quite well the pleasure of a fried bologna with onion and mustard, on cheap white bread; the taste of cream cheese on toast.

 

Pete and Bob's was gone, before I came along. King Tut's however, is still going strong, and I still love their Nightmare dogs! I'll even bet you money that the women who last gave me my food,were the same girls who gave you yours...

 

The last of the drive-in theaters closed almost 20yrs ago, I'm afraid. I think there may still be one open in St. Albans, bu I make no promises.


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...


#10 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 09:50 AM

Gosh, this is making me nostalgic for food I never had. 



#11 David Hensley

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Posted 21 March 2014 - 08:37 PM

The kicker of it all, Sylvia, is that I could have it all, in exchange for an hour-and-a-half drive! Sadly though, as much as I miss the place, and its cuisine, I just never seem to find the time...


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...


#12 Bill Klapp

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 12:32 AM

David, the drive-ins and the counters in the White Oak and Rexall drug stores, where you could get hot dogs, cherry, lemon, vanilla or chocolate fountain Cokes and ice cream specialties, WERE Oak Hill's only eateries!  Well, the Hotel Hill had a dining room, but nobody ever ate there.  The Glass House on the WV Turnpike at the Beckley exit was our fine-dining experience.

At one point, Oak Hill, a town of roughly 5,000, had two sit-down movie theatres, the King and the Oak Hill, and two drive-in movie theatres, the Skyline and the Mountaineer.  Ah, the Saturday afternoon horror double features with huge boxes of hot, fresh-popped popcorn, a Coke and the gumdrops or cinnamon imperials bought in bulk at Woolworth's on the cheap.  Free movie tickets sometimes hidden in those popcorn boxes, too!

We sometimes did the fried bologna sandwich with toast, lettuce and mayo (and mysteriously, not tomato).  Easy to laugh at until you taste it.  My father was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country, so I also ate my share of Weaver's Lebanon Bologna sandwiches on white bread with French's mustard.  He referred to it as "smoky meat".  That it was!  I continued to mail-order Weaver products, including regular and sweet Lebanon Bologna and the stunningly good smoked beef for creamed chipped beef.  Another WV favorite...creamed chipped beef.  (I can make a mean batch out of smoked beef and excellent packaged bechamella here in Italy!)  I could never understand how that dish got the bad rap that it did.  I almost joined the armed services in the hope of being able to have it every day!


Edited by Bill Klapp, 22 March 2014 - 12:35 AM.

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#13 annabelle

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Posted 22 March 2014 - 08:43 AM

My youngest loves Lebanon bologna and chipped beef.  I learned about them in Dutch country.



#14 ChefPip

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Posted 03 September 2014 - 12:33 PM

I was born and raised in Huntington, WV near where Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia are divided by the Big Sandy River and the Ohio River.   Before the later 1960's there was a large number of small Mom and Pop restaurants where we generally ate after

Church on Sunday.  Often the Church sponsored a Dinner where the best of the congregation would cook a bountiful Sunday Dinner in the Church Kitchen and multi purpose room that was set as a dining room. 

 

Covered dishes were often brought in and these were largely casseroles, jello salads, and deserts.  Deviled Eggs always sound their way in in covered plates which had recesses in them to accommodate them for safe shipping.  It was a source of many jokes.

 

Of the things I remember in these diners was the "White Half Runner Green Beans and Kennebec Potatoes pressure cooked

with strips of bacon.  The gardeners of the Church always grew loads of these along with the kennebecs to bring in and sit the night before with the regulars who draped unfolded newspapers on their laps to remove the strings and snap them in spall pieces for tomorrows early morning cooking.  This was always overcooked as if by tradition. Tomato Dumplings, Chicken Dumplings were always around too.  Slices of Ham, Pork chops,Roast Beef, Cat Fish, Cornbread cooked in those iron molds that

make sticks that look like ears of corn, and so many things mentioned in above post were on the tables. 

 

Deserts were often served with fresh churned Vanilla ice cream.  I remember the Date Nut Pudding with Ice cream very well.  There were many fruit trees growing wild where Apples, Cherries, Pears, Peaches, could be gathered for fruit coblers which again went well with the ice cream.  

 

Away from the Churches which were some of the best food I remember were the old Dime Stores with their lunch counters that featured things like Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches with the mashed potatoes and brown beef gravy poured over it.  Of course a toasted Pimento Cheese on whole wheat sandwich was a lunch time tradition too.

 

By the week ends the Open Pit BBQ's were firing up to deliver some of the finest Pit Master's skills.  BBQ often had Apple Butter mixed in with it as a secret ingredient.   Then there were the occasional Fish Fries that followed an all night fishing venture on the long weekends.  I remember the Ox Roast that were held at the County Fair Grounds too.  If you haven't tried Appalachian BBQ Smoked Ox, you should put that on  your list.  It is so tender, you can only use the sharpest of knife to cut it.

 

At home I remember string Pole Beans from the garden to string on needle and thread to make "leather britches".  These dried

to a brown leathery array that looked like tree bark.  It was an old way of drying and preserving the things.  Butter Beans with

yellow buttermilk cornbread was a favorite with the older men in my family.  I would often watch them pour Sorghum on their cornbread as a treat.  But we were always out in the fall to purchase srorghum and apple butter if we didn't have apples enough to make our own apple butter.  

 

One of the first things I learned to make as a little kid was "snow cream" which was made of snow.  I always seemed to get a sore throat from it somehow.  But it was some milk, sugar, vanilla, and snow stirred quickly to make a kids treat.

 

Then who can forget "Gubberment Cheese" and crackers  ???   :laugh:  

 

And speaking of Appalachia and the waterways here,  this video may provide some entertainment and insights. into the fun and joys of the simple life we can have here.   This shanty boat was built from reclaimed

materials from an old barn. 

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=-RaFApVP0zU


Edited by ChefPip, 03 September 2014 - 12:54 PM.

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