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Beans And Cornbread, Cryptid Board Games, And Bear Stories From The Smoky Mountains

Tufted Titmouse with Black Bear
Bill Lea
Bill Lea
A tufted titmouse perches above a black bear in a tree.

If you think about one dish that has sustained generations of Appalachian people, what comes to mind? When we put the question on social media, many listeners replied with the same answer: a simple bowl of soup beans and a slice of corn bread. This week on Inside Appalachia, we’ll look at the origin of beans and cornbread. And we’ll meet a woman in Moorefield, West Virginia, who makes pinto beans in her restaurant, Pupuseria Emerita. Emerita Sorto grew up in Honduras. In addition to serving traditional Appalachian food, she also cooks traditional Honduran and Salvadoran food at her restaurant.

We’ll also learn about a new board game based on West Virginia foods and local monsters, like Mothman, and talk with bear photographer Bill Lea. That and more this week on Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Beans and Cornbread

Beans Cooking
Amy Lough
Amy Lough
Beans cooking with garlic and onions.

Even though pinto beans aren’t native to Appalachia, they’ve become a staple in many of the region’s food traditions; lots of people consider soup beans and cornbread a uniquely Appalachian meal. Folkways reporter Zack Harold takes a look into this mainstay of mountain cooking, and its surprisingly ancient roots.

Pupuseria Emerita

Amy Lough
Amy Lough
A baleada, a traditional Honduran dish, made with a flour tortilla and beans.

And we’ll meet a woman in Moorefield, West Virginia, who makes pinto beans in her restaurant, Pupuseria Emerita. Emerita Sorto grew up in Honduras, and she serves traditional Honduran and Salvadoran food at her restaurant.

Moon Flower Hemp

Queen Family Photo
Rebecca Kiger
The Washington Post
Jamie, Laura, Macie and Riley Queen, the three generations of Moon Flower, grow and harvest hemp on their farm in Buckhannon, W.Va.

Moon Flower is a hemp business based in Buckhannon, West Virginia run by three-generations of Appalachian women. Riley and Macie, along with their mother Jamie and her mother Laura, produce and sell all of their products. Although medical marijuana is now legal in West Virginia, it took four years between the law passing and product to become available. In the meantime, the Queen family focused their business on CBD and Delta-8 products, which are legal for recreational use in West Virginia. CBD is a chemical found in marijuana – but hemp products contain almost no THC, which is what gets you high. Delta-8 is a type of THC, but it’s different from marijuana – people say it creates a milder high.

Photographer Rebecca Kiger and reporter Molly Born put together a story for the Washington Post on Moon Flower. Our co-host Caitlin Tan found out more about that story and about Moon Flower.

Online Dance Classes
Carla Gover is an Appalachian musician, dancer, and activist. In the early days of the pandemic, her string band had to cancel its tour of Wales, Ireland, Serbia, and Mexico. Gover began teaching flatfooting and clogging online. WEKU arts reporter Cheri Lawson talked to the Eastern Kentucky native about her art and her online classes.

COVID-19 case numbers are dropping as the Omicron surge passes and we head into spring. But, researchers are continuing to study COVID’s after-effects. West Virginia researchers are taking a leading role in a study on long haul COVID ailments. West Virginia Public Broadcasting Health Reporter, June Leffler, found out more.

Bear Stories from the Smoky Mountains

Black bear populations across Appalachia that have been growing for decades have spiked in recent years. With the pandemic sending more people outdoors, there’s also been a growing number of interactions with bears in places like the Great Smoky Mountains. Our co-host Mason Adams grew up going to the Smokies every year and loves hearing bear stories. He spoke with photographer Bill Lea about the animals Lea photographs.

West Virginia Board Game 

Mothman has been sighted again in West Virginia as part of a new board game that features cryptids and local food. Jared Kaplan and Chris Kincaid of Beckley, West Virginia created the game called “Hungry for Humans” that was illustrated by Morgantown artist Liz Pavlovic. Our Folkways reporter Clara Haizlett has the story.

Award-Winning Kentucky Poet Laureate

crystal wilkinson
Anastasia Pottinger of Rogue Studios
Crystal Wilkinson is Kentucky's '21-'22 Poet Laureate.

Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson received the 2022 Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by the NAACP. In this week’s episode, we share her poem “O Tobacco” which is featured in her award-winning book Perfect Black.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Genova, Dinosaur Burps, and Louis Jordan. Roxy Todd is our producer. Alex Runyon is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Our editor is Kelley Libby. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens. Zander Aloi also helped produce this episode. You can find us on Twitter @InAppalachia. You can also send us an email to InsideAppalachia@wvpublic.org.

Email us at insideappalachia@wvpublic.org. Tweet us @InAppalachia.

Stay Connected
Inside Appalachia Co-Host/Folkways Reporter, ctan@wvpublic.org, 307-231-9865, @miss_ctan
Inside Appalachia Co-Host/Folkways Reporter, mason.j.adams@gmail.com, @MasonAtoms
Former Reporter/Producer for Inside Appalachia, @RoxyMTodd
Alex Runyon is a proud Huntington, West Virginia native. She attended Marshall University and earned degrees in creative writing and literary studies, dabbling in journalism, photography and women’s studies along the way. She worked as a freelance photographer and social media strategist before joining the Inside Appalachia team as Associate Producer. Alex enjoys writing and performing stand up comedy, hiking, screenwriting and playing board games. She lives in Huntington, West Virginia with her cat, Waylon Kittings. Follow her on Twitter @_AlexRunyon.