Soul food, a distinctive variety of Southern cuisine associated with African American culture, has become increasingly popular since the 1960s. As Sarah Ban Breathnach comments, “Soul food is our personal passport to the past. It is much more about heritage than it is about hominy.”
Sheila Ferguson in Soul Food: Classic Cuisine from the South speaks of such culinary delights as “a legacy clearly steeped in tradition; a way of life that has been handed down from generation to generation.”
About.com in discussing American Food, mentioned that some sources say that the term “soul food” may have first been used in 1962 by civil rights activist and poet Amiri Baraka. That same year Sylvia Woods, the “Queen of Soul Food” opened her famous Harlem restaurant Sylvia’s.
To a lot of people, all that just sounds like a description of Southern food. The distinctions between soul and Southern are hard to make. In his 1969 Soul Food Cookbook, Bob Jeffries summed it up thusly: “While all soul food is southern food, not all southern food is ‘soul.’ Soul food cooking is an example of how really good southern Negro cooks cooked with what they had available to them.”
In many instances, slaves were the given remaining parts of meat and other food items after the choicest selections were given to the slave masters. The origins of soul food also included food items brought to the Americas via the trans-Atlantic slave trade from West African as well as from Europe. Slaves and their descendants took what they had and transformed it into flavorful dishes with that soulful touch.
Soul Food Junkies
The documentary Soul Food Junkies, premiered earlier this year on PBS’ Independent Lens series, as director Byron Hurt explored the intertwining of history, identity, and health as related to African Americans and soul food. The film was inspired in part by Hurt’s father, Jackie Hurt, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2007. Hurt points out that his father was overweight and in poor health. “When he became ill, I started to examine his relationship to food,” Hurt tells NPR’s Michel Martin, “and it was soul food he grew up with and loved so much.”
Through candid interviews with soul food cooks, historians, and scholars, as well as with doctors, family members, and everyday people, the film put this culinary tradition under the microscope to examine both its positive and negative consequences.
The film will be shown in Central Ohio on Saturday, July 13, 2013 from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.:
King Arts Complex
867 Mt. Vernon Avenue
Columbus, OH 43203
For more information, call 614-645-0674.
Food for the Soul
While soul food meals are filling and satisfying to the body, what about food that is satisfying to the soul as well? The place where one can find sustenance for the soul is in the Word of God. Job recognizes the value of the Scriptures and comments, “I have esteemed your Word more than my necessary food.” The Psalmist offers this invitation: “Oh, taste and see, that the Lord is good.”
God’s Word translation renders Psalm 107:9 this way:
He gave plenty to drink to those who were thirsty. He filled those who were hungry with good food.
Because it is loaded with salt, fat and sugar, soul food may not be all that good for African Americans and other partakers, health-wise, but it certainly tastes is good. On the other hand, food for the soul, like God Himself, is good all the time, and all the time “the Word” is good.
Take a look at this trailer for Soul Food Junkies: Is Soul Food a Sacrament or a Sin?
Enjoy the slide show presentation showing 10 items from a soul food feast.
For a related article on food served on New Year’s Day, check this out: New Year’s Day food traditions.
Click here for a recipe for pecan pie prepared with love, the secret ingredient.