|Were you aware that June is National Soul Food month? Well it is. |
“Soul Food is a cuisine,” says Chef Todd Richards author of Soul. Soul Food is flexible, it is vegan and omnivorous. It has a particular and powerful history and an extraordinary future. It is transregional and ultimately personal. Soul is not fast food plus junk food plus Southern black-cooked unhealthy comfort/celebratory food. Soul Food is a tradition and a narrative that is ennobling. It is not nor has it ever been a pathology.
As put by author and chef Michael W.Twitty:
We respect that Soul Food is not a stereotype, it is a language. Soul Food is a response to a call. Soul Food is a love letter to the spirit and stomach. Soul Food is cultural power and capital. Soul Food is a crown. We begin National Soul Food Month by celebrating all of the possibilities of Soul cuisine. We celebrate the survival, the creativity and improvisation, the layered coding and the transcendental spirit of our cuisine. We celebrate the conversation it has with other cuisines. We honor its Ancestors and bless the hands of those who carry it forward.
The actual origins of soul food trace all the way back to slavery. A large amount of the foods integral to the cuisine originate from the limited rations given to slaves by their planters and masters. Slaves were typically given a peck of cornmeal and 3-4 pounds of pork per week, and from those rations come soul food staples such as cornbread, fried catfish, BBQ ribs, chitterlings, and neckbones.
Slaves needed to eat foods with high amounts of calories to balance out spending long days working in the fields. This led to time-honored soul food traditions like frying foods, breading meats and fishes with cornmeal, and mixing meats with vegetables (i.e. putting pork in collard greens). Eventually, this slave-invented style of cooking started to get adopted into larger Southern culture, as slave owners gave special privileges to slaves with cooking skills.
Source: Afroculinaria, authors: Herbert Covey "What the slaves ate", Anne Bower "African American Foodways"