What makes West Virginian cuisine? Though typical dishes in West Virginia have strong influences from its southern neighbors, its Appalachian roots shows through their style of cooking. The Appalachian style is subsistence-based: cooking and eating what the people can grow or catch themselves. Due to West Virginia’s geography, local cuisine means lots of wild or cultivated plants, berries, nuts, wild game and corn.
Ramp, is one of the state’s famous (or infamous, however you want to see it) food. Ramp is wild leek, quite similar to scallion. It has a strong flavor that is loved by many. However, the diner would often have a strong garlicky odor emanating from him as a result. Ramp can be eaten raw with eggs or made into a ramp sandwich. Every year, there are festivals held all around West Virginia celebrating this wild, wonderful food.
Though not unique to West Virginia, Helvetia’s cheese is notable. The city of Helvetia is a small Swiss Village originally founded by Swiss and German settlers. Their descendants remain in the village to this day, and thanks to the isolation of the village, the traditions of the original settlers have been carefully preserved. Along with their traditional dances, music and holidays, they are able to continue their own way of making Swiss cheese.
In Charleston, you can try out another West Virginian favorite, the West Virginia hot dog. What makes this unique is the addition of sweet, creamy coleslaw and chili along with the relish. You can try out this local delicacy at Trivillian’s Pharmacy and Soda Fountain in Charleston, as well as Gram’s Specialties, Chris’ Hot Dogs, Mrs. Winkle’s, The Wheelhouse and Donut Connection.