By Kirsten Hawkins
Edited by Linda Kevich
Regional Cuisine: Soul Food
The history of
American soul food can be traced all the way back to the days of
slavery. More often times than not, the slaves were given the most
undesirable part of the meal, the leftovers from the house. Pairing
this with their own home-grown vegetables, the first soul food dishes
were invented. After the slaves were freed, most of them were so poor
that they could only afford the most undesirable, inexpensive cuts of
meat available to them - the leftover, unwanted parts of a pig such
as tripe, tongue, ears, and knuckles. As in the days of slavery,
African-Americans used their own home-grown vegetables and things
they could catch or kill to complete their meals.
In the modern
United States, soul food has truly evolved. It has become part of the
African-American culture, bringing family members together on all
occasions from birthdays to funerals, to spend time together
preparing meals. The history of soul food is mainly an oral one;
recipes were never really written down so while two families may be
preparing identical meals, chances 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 come out differently.
One of the most
obvious and widely-recognized characteristics of African-American
soul food is the fact that hot sauce and more intense spices are
incorporated into meals as often as possible. For this reason, soul
food is not for those who can't take the heat or are prone to heart-burn!
characteristic of true African-American soul food is that nothing is
ever wasted, having originated from the leftovers of just about
anything. Stale bread was quickly converted into stuffing or a bread
pudding. Over ripe bananas were whipped up into banana puddings, and
other ripe fruits were put into cakes and pies, and leftover fish
parts were made into croquets or hush puppies.
Sunday dinners are
definitely the times when soul food is most commonly seen on tables.
Sunday dinners are a time for African-American families to get
together to prepare and partake in a large meal. Sunday dinners
normally take up the entire day (normally following a church
ceremony), and family members come from far and wide to partake in
this meal together. Sunday dinners took 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, kale, ribs, corn
bread, fried chicken, chitlins, okra, and yams are all excellent
examples of African-American soul food that might be found at a
Soul food is not
generally a healthy option for a person that must monitor their diet.
Fried foods are generally prepared with hydrogenated oil or lard, and
they usually tend to be flavored and seasoned with pork products.
Since this may be
what contributes to statistics showing such a high percentage of
African-Americans that are significantly overweight, soul food
preparation methods are now slowly starting to be refined, bringing a
lot more healthy options to the table. Rather than the increasingly
unhealthy pork products, use of turkey-based products is becoming
more and more popular as time passes. The fried foods that are so
beloved of the culture can now be prepared using a lower fat canola
or vegetable oil.
About The Author:
Kirsten Hawkins is
a food and nutrition expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and
Italian food. Visit www.food-and-nutrition.com for more information
on cooking delicious and healthy meals.
Traditions Of France
Origin of "Sloppy Joe"
of Coffee Roasting