Early in their marriage, the meals Katlin and Mohsin Kazmi shared seemed right out of a 1970s commercial.

Hey, you got fried chicken in my tikka. You got tikka on my fried chicken. Delicious!

“Katlin would prepare Appalachian nights and I would cook Pakistani nights,” Mohsin Kazmi says. “The third evening we’d combine leftovers, and the results tasted so good.”

And this discovery evolved into a side venture—the Pakalachian Food Truck, based in Abingdon, Virginia. The truck offers food blended from their two cultures, such as a Pakistani chicken curry with mashed potatoes.

Katlin, a middle-school assistant principal, grew up in Castlewood, Virginia, in the heart of Appalachia; Mohsin, a conservation photographer and co-founder of an ecotourism company, Tamandua Expeditions, was reared in New Jersey by Pakistani parents.

The Kazmis, who both earned human development degrees from Virginia Tech in 2012, use locally sourced food and sustainable practices, from composting food waste to serving in biodegradable containers. Yet the underlying principle of their venture goes deeper.

“We’re spreading an awareness of how cultures can come together through food,” Katlin Kazmi says, “and that people have more in common than they realize.”

Written by Leslie King