Bill Lynch, Kelley Libby, Zander Aloi, Wendy Welch, Vanessa Peña, Briana Heaney Published

Mushroom Mania, Soul Food And Aunt Jeanie, Inside Appalachia

A finger points to a single chanterelle mushroom that has sprouted out of the ground.
Wild mushrooms have become very popular in Appalachia.
Wendy Welch/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, we head to the woods and take a master class in foraging for wild mushrooms.

We also break bread and talk soul food with Xavier Oglesby, who is passing on generations of kitchen wisdom to his niece, Brooklynn.

And we’ll hear about old-time music legend Aunt Jeannie Wilson. A marker has been set near the place where people used to hear her play.

These stories and more this week, Inside Appalachia.

In This Episode:

Fun With Foraging For Fungi

Yellow chanterelle mushrooms are cut up in a green bowl.
These chanterelles are about to be turned into a tasty treat. They were harvested the day before an unsuccessful mushroom hunt, and turned into a topper for vanilla ice cream.

Credit: Wendy Welch/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Mushroom hunting has always been a part of Appalachian culture, but in recent years especially, mushrooms have been having a moment.

Folkways Reporter Wendy Welch spent time with foragers in Virginia and West Virginia to learn more. 

Sharing Soul Food 

A man in a blue shirt stands over a large silver bowl in a kitchen.
Xavier Oglesby cuts onions for a macaroni salad he is cooking inside Manna House Ministries’ kitchen. A pot of boiling water is behind him, cooking the pasta for the dish.

Credit: Vanessa Peña/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Soul food is associated with Black communities in the deep south, but the cooking style is traditional to Appalachia, too. Folkways Fellow Vanessa Peña talked with Xavier Oglesby, a master artist in soul food cooking from Beckley, West Virginia.

A full interview with Xavier and Brooklynn Oglesby by Jennie Williams is archived at West Virginia University Libraries

Aunt Jeanie Gets Her Due

West Virginia recently paid tribute to one of its traditional music greats. Aunt Jeanie Wilson was a clawhammer banjo player who performed for governors and presidents. She helped to keep mountain music alive through the 20th century during the rise of jazz, rock n’ roll and electric music.

WVPB’s Briana Heaney went to a ceremony honoring Wilson at Chief Logan State Park in Logan County.

Jayne Anne Phillip’s “Night Watch”

A book cover is shown that reads "Night Watch a novel" by Jayne Anne Phillips. There is a drawing of the cover of a horse pulling a carriage of people. In the distance is a sketch of a city.

The career of author Jayne Anne Phillips spans nearly 50 years. Her home state of West Virginia has often figured into her books, giving a glimpse of the different decades of Appalachian life. Her latest novel is Night Watch, which takes readers to the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in the town of Weston several years after the end of the Civil War.

Bill Lynch spoke with Phillips about her book and growing up near the old asylum.


Our theme music is by Matt Jackfert. Other music this week was provided by Town Mountain, Noam Pikelny, Justice & Jarvis, Jesse Milnes, Mary Hott and Little Sparrow.

This week, producer Bill Lynch filled in for host Mason Adams. Zander Aloi is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Eric Douglas. Kelley Libby is our editor. Our audio mixer is Patrick Stephens.

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Inside Appalachia is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.