Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

A Taste For

traditional appalachian foods

Last week I got a taste for chocolate gravy and it reminded me of a question Garland Davis sent me a few months back.


Tipper, I was thinking while walking my dog this morning. I remember my mother asking, “What do you want to eat, what do you have a taste for?” I have been all over the world and nowhere but North Carolina have I heard the phrase, “What do you have a taste for”, or “I have a taste for.” Is “Have a taste for” a North Carolina or Appalachian thing?

I have heard the word taste used exactly as Garland described my entire life. I can comfortably say it’s common usage in my area. Of course, I live in North Carolina and Appalachia so that doesn’t really answer Garland’s question. What about you are you familiar with the usage where you live?


p.s. If you don’t know what chocolate gravy is go here.


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  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Paula-thank you for the comment! I have never heard that saying-got my mouth fixed for. But I love it and it makes perfect sense : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    March 7, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Pam-go here to see the recipe: you for the comment!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    March 5, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    I live in Angier, NC, but was born and raised in NW PA (Erie County) and have heard the phrase, “What do you have a taste for” and “What are you hungry for” too. It means, in common English, something one has a hankering for, but I don’t think that definition for it is in Webster’s.
    Tricia Yearwood (the country singer) has made her Daddy’s chocolate gravy and biscuits on her tv cooking show. I’ve never had it though.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 5, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    “Have a taste for” was certainly a hunger-hunting phrase around Choestoe in North Georgia, Appalachian country! And even though it’s nigh unto bedtime when I read this, I find I have a taste for Chocolate gravy here at night!

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    My Dad (western Ark) would say, “I had my ‘bill’ set for that chocolate cake.”
    My maternal grandmother (n. Ala) would say, “I’m starvin’ for a drink o’ water!”

  • Reply
    F. Raymer
    March 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I had never heard of chocolate gravy until eating breakfast one time at Rodie’s Parkway Restaurant in Glendale Springs, NC. They have it on their menu, & my daughter & I are hooked on it. Drooling… Oh, yeah. We often say “I’ve got a craving for” or “I’m hungry for”, but not a “taste for”. But then, again, I’m from the Piedmont, not the mountains…

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Mama used to fix this Chocolate
    Gravy over biscuits for breakfast
    when I was in school. Now that
    stuff will stick to your ribs!
    I forgot it yesterday, but mama
    use to tell us boys that March 4th
    (March forth”) was the command day
    of the year…Ken

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    March 5, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I have always said “I have a taste for”. But then my Dad is from North Carolina.
    Tipper, can you please post your recipe for chocolate gravy?

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    March 5, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Well Tipper, that pretty much answers my question. But it still seems to be a “country” thang.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 5, 2015 at 11:06 am

    We’ve got snow & ice again here in middle TN. My light posts have what looks like a foot of snow on top. We are more than ready for spring!!
    We used the “taste for” too. I get a taste for biscuits & gravy way too often. Your chocolate gravy sure looks good–haven’t had any in a long time. Mama was famous for regular “thickening gravy” as well as chocolate gravy.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Yes, have used that phrase here in Oklahoma.
    A different ‘take’ on it my brother used, “What’s your food fantasy?”

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    March 5, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Tipper, I have heard “a taste for” all my life and use the phrase often. But the strangest one I ever heard was used by some old folks at my church, when they said, “I’ve got my mouth fixed for…”. I never used that expression myself, but I always took notice when they used it for some food they were craving. Have you ever heard it?
    I do love chocolate gravy. Also, my mother-in-law used to open a jar of home-canned blackberries and thicken them to pour over biscuits for breakfast. It sure was delicious.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    March 5, 2015 at 10:42 am

    How did I miss chocolate gravy? Never heard of it before. I don’t recall “a taste for” used in that way. We always said, “I’m hungry for. . . .” But I have heard “I don’t have a taste for. . . .” as a polite way of saying you don’t like a certain food.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 5, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Ever have a taste/craving for something and don’t know what it is? You look the house over and don’t find it. You go to the store, walk up and down every aisle hoping to spot it, but leave empty handed.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 5, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I never had a taste for anything. I had/have cravings. I’ve never had chocolate gravy. Growing up we sometimes had homemade chocolate syrup over biscuits. It was made with just water, sugar and cocoa powder. It was awful good but after reading about your chocolate gravy, I might like it better.

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    March 5, 2015 at 10:27 am

    In east Texas I’ve used the phrase all my life. Right now, I have a taste for spring.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Very familiar, and a phrase I still hear. I often get a taste for something out of season or not in the frig. I have found soup beans and cornbread will usually satisfy no matter what the craving.
    Just had to add a wonderful friend used to call our Appalachian dishes “rough grub.” She is the first one I have seen use regular iceberg lettuce and onions for wilted lettuce. It was wonderful, and meant I no longer had to wait for the garden or purchase the overly priced leaf lettuce. No bitter taste ever! That is the one thing I always craved/had a taste for, or just a hankerin’.

  • Reply
    Marylou Sweat
    March 5, 2015 at 9:40 am

    I have heard and used “a taste for” all my life. Just recently I’ve had “a taste for” something and I don’t know what it is. You know, you think you want something then eat it and realize that’s not what you had a taste for. I am originally from Cary,N.C. although I’ve been living between Plant City and Dover,Florida most of my life so who knows where I heard it first..

  • Reply
    Pamela Moore
    March 5, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I’ve seen “a taste for” used widely in the U.S. Here in Florida its popular in store and restaurant names (eg. A Taste for Wine”).
    In my family we had a hankering for things. “A hankering” is Dutch in origin.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I’ve not used a taste for, but a hankering for. But I can see the meaning of the usage you described. Chocolate gravy – my first encounter – was with one of my special NC friends. She served it over a pound cake, but she told me that as a child her mom served it over biscuits. It was an inexpensive form of dessert/sweets. That was a good reminder of something special she shared with me.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Schoonover
    March 5, 2015 at 8:55 am

    I live in Richmond, Va. and I’ve heard and used this expression all my life. I clicked the link and read about the chocolate gravy. I bet it would be good on pound cake or angel food cake. When I was a child, I loved having breakfast for dinner on Friday nights. I’ve realized it’s what was on hand until we went to the grocery store.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 8:45 am

    It must be an Appalachian thing as I grew up hearing it here in Ky too. I really do have a taste for some chocolate gravy this morning.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 5, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I have heard folks say “I have a taste for” but we didn’t use the phrase much when I was growing up.
    Usually it was, “I can just taste that summer watermelon” or “I’m craving hot biscuits and gravy”!
    It always seems to me that ‘I have a taste for’ would indicate that you already tasted it and you might as well finish eatin’ it! Then again my explanation of the phrase is putting a ‘bad taste’ in my mouth and I am not sure which thought would be in ‘good taste’!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…we have freezing rain, sleet and looks like light snow before the day is over…Now don’t you just think that is a bad tasting combination for driving!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 5, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Chocolate gravy…yum!! I very familiar with having a taste for something. It was very common in Gilmer Co. GA.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    March 5, 2015 at 8:23 am

    My vocabulary is messed up because of a Scotch-Irish Mother and German Father.
    Both Grandparents spoke in broken language of their heritage.
    Being from Pennsylvania I am considered PA-Dutch.
    I remember being asked what I had a taste for but do not remember which side of the family it came from.

  • Reply
    Suzy J
    March 5, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Good morning Tipper, I hope the weather is kind to you today.
    I was raised in Cleveland, OH and I remember hearing this as a child, my grandmother was from eastern PA. We also used what do you have a hankerin’ for?
    (I was young in the 50-60’s)
    Thank you so much for my morning smiles reading your posts 🙂

  • Reply
    March 5, 2015 at 8:20 am

    “a taste for”, “a hankerin’ for”, “a hunger for” – – all still used from time to time but more common in my childhood and youth in south Texas. Perhaps these phrases are more “country” than regional. . . .

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    March 5, 2015 at 8:06 am

    I have heard of “a taste for”,but mostly up here people say “I’m hungry for”. In my family some say “I have a hankerin’ for”. I also wonder where all these come from!

  • Reply
    Carolyn Hunt
    March 5, 2015 at 7:45 am

    I still use it & grew up hearing.
    I live in the north western part of SC.
    My grandparents on both side came from TN & NC Appalachian Mountains areas. So maybe it is a Appalachian thing.

  • Reply
    John Rawdon
    March 5, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Tipper. I am from Hohenwald Tn. ( middle Tn. ) and I have heard that phrase all my life. Now that I have taken a look at your picture of chocolate gravy and biscuit I have a taste for that and think I will go make some. I enjoy reading Blind Pig post. Thanks so much. Blessings to all. John Rawdon

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    March 5, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Dear Tipper and Garland, I have heard and used that phrase all my life. I live in Gordon County, GA , but all four grandparents were from further back in the hills, Dawson and Pickens counties.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 5, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Yes, I am familiar with that expression. When I was young I remember saying “I’m hungry” and the response was always “what do you have a taste for?” But I live in Appalachia so my answer isn’t much help.
    Actually, right now I have a taste for some chocolate gravy!

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