Let’s get this straight immediately: If you want to make friends with the good people of the mountains, you’d better pronounce the name of their home the way they do. When you say Appalachia, make it sound like ‘throw an apple atcha.’
This fabled region of the US includes parts of 12 states and the entirety of West Virginia. It encompasses forested peaks and deep hollers (the local name for valleys) along the Appalachian Mountains that stretch from Canada to Alabama.
Although the population is predominantly of white Scots-Irish or German descent, about 10% of the population is African-American. But circa the 1700s, it was a melting pot that blended white, Black, and Native Americans. That means there’s damn good food, foot-stomping music, and a lively storytelling tradition, along with long-held wisdom about the importance of kin, living in harmony with nature, and being self-reliant.
In this episode, we discuss Appalachian folklore, celebrate the magic of Dolly Parton, listen to eerie country ballads, and daydream about banana pudding. Then we recommend five immersive books that took us to Appalachia on the page, including a gripping short story collection, an irresistible travelogue cookbook, and three novels that present wildly different versions of life in the mountains. (show notes / transcript)
Top image courtesy of anthony heflin/Shutterstock.
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