Soul Food Cooking:
up a Mess of Soul Food
history of soul food traces all the way back to the days of American slavery.
Slaves were generally given the most undesirable part of the meal, the leftovers
from the house. Combining this with their own homegrown vegetables, the first
soul food dishes were invented. After emancipation, many freed slaves were so
poor that they could only afford the most undesirable, inexpensive cuts of meat
available. African-Americans then again used their homegrown vegetables and things
they could catch or kill to complete their meals.
the United States of today, soul food has truly evolved. It has become part of
African-American culture, bringing family members together on all occasions to
spend time together preparing meals. The history of soul food is an oral history;
many recipes were never written down so while two families may be preparing identical
meals, odds are that they don't taste very much alike. Different ingredients,
cooking methods, and techniques go into preparing soul food meals, causing the
end results to differ from one another.
of the most widely-recognized traits of African-American soul food is the fact
that hot sauce and intense spices are incorporated into meals as often as possible.
For this reason, soul food is not for those who don't like spicy food or are prone
to heart burn.
characteristic of hard-core soul food is that nothing is wasted, having originated
from the leftovers of just about anything. Stale bread was turned into stuffing
or a bread pudding. Overripe bananas were whipped up into puddings, and other
ripe fruits were baked into cakes and pies. Leftover fish parts were made into
croquets or hush puppies.
dinners are one of the most prevalent times when soul food is seen on tables.
They are a time for families to get together to prepare a large meal. Sunday dinners
often take up the entire day (normally following a church service), and family
members hail from far and wide to partake in this meal.
massive Sunday dinners can take place in the form of potlucks, where various family
members contribute a dish or two and form a big, fine meal. Collard and mustard
greens, corn bread, kale, ribs, fried chicken, chitlins, yams, and okra are all
excellent examples of what may be found at a Sunday soul food meal.
traditional soul food is not a healthy diet and lifestyle. Fried foods are generally
made with hydrogenated oil or lard, and they tend to be flavored and seasoned
with pork products. Soul food preparation methods are now slowly beginning to
be refined, bringing a lot more healthy food products and ways of cooking to the
table. The deep fried foods that make up the heart and "soul" of soul
food can now be prepared using a lower fat canola or vegetable oil.
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and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements
have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
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cure or prevent any disease.