A Taste of Local Culture
Among the foothills of Appalachia, here in Southeast Ohio, a deep culinary tradition pulls from many nationalities and eras of history. Scotch-Irish, German, African and Native American cultures melded to develop the region’s eclectic cuisine. The logging and coal mining industries also affected the cultural ties with food. Preparing large group meals for breakfast to feed men headed into mines influenced traditions of sharing and connection. Focused on using local resources, these food traditions have now been passed down for generations.
Anita Hajivandi dedicates herself to the community connection she grew up with in West Virginia. She co-directs the food pantry of River of Life Church in Rutland, Ohio. Sharing food with others is part of her being.
Kathy Witten, who uses a rolling pin that has been in the family for generations, is passing on the tradition of cooking. She teaches her grandchildren the recipes and techniques that have come along with that rolling pin. And with her physical limitations, she’s grateful for the helping hands.
The food itself, from chicken and noodles to stack cakes, is firmly ingrained in Appalachia culture. Hunting deer, rabbit and squirrel is as much culinary custom as it is recreation. Big meals are meant to be shared, and visitors are always welcome at an open table.