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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

WV's own pepperoni rolls stars in new PBS series

First episode of "Somewhere South" shines a light on hand pies, the South's original convenience food

West Virginia’s famed pepperoni rolls have a starring role in a new six-part television series premiering tonight on PBS.

In “Somewhere South,” TV host and chef Vivian Howard travels throughout the Southeast to explore the people, traditions and dishes that are shaping the “New American South” movement showcasing the region’s rich culture and unique cuisine. (She previously hosted PBS’ award-winning series, “A Chef’s Life.”)

Serving as both student and guide, Howard digs deeper into the South’s cross-cultural dishes, sharing the origins of each one before learning how different cultures have adapted it through the years. Along the way, she meets new friends and discovers how “breaking bread and sharing a meal” can create a comfortable space to have meaningful, memorable conversations.

West Virginia pepperoni rolls
West Virginia pepperoni rolls

In tonight’s series debut, “American as Hand Pie,” Howard shines a spotlight on the South’s original convenience food – the hand pie – mobile pockets of bread or pastry dough stuffed with fillings that workers could easily take into coal miles, factories or fields. That journey brings here to West Virginia coal country for a taste of the pepperoni rolls originally made by Italian immigrants for miners to pack in their lunches underground.

New episodes – highlighting everything from humble porridge and dumplings to pickles, greens and legendary BBQ – air from 9-10 pm every Friday night through May 1.

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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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