Soul food is always good for the “soul.”
Soul food is always good for the “soul.”

The Spirit of the South: Soul Food

February 23, 2021

Mr. Morgan, our journalism teacher and adviser, took this picture at his family’s Super Bowl party a few years ago. He said his family has been hosting the event for the last 40-plus years in his hometown of Warren. Mr. Morgan said they serve close to 200 friends and family members each year (except this year due to Covid-19.) But everyone who attends looks forward to the delicious soul food served. This is an actually plate served a few years ago at the party, and it’s the same great food every year.

The history of Soul food is rooted in African American history, all the way back to slavery and far into the present. Native Americans were the original progenitors of this style of food, as it relies on many native American staples, such as corn, grits, moonshine, and specific fruits.

The less surface level soul foods were also used by the Native Americans, such as pork brain, chitterlings (a.k.a “chitlins”), and pig’s feet etc. Africans influenced soul food during slavery via bring over cooking technique and staples such as rice and leafy greens. The flavors also got spicier as slaves would use native grown cayenne peppers to replicate the heat of African malagueta peppers.

Soul food remained a relatively closeted phenomenon up until the mid twentieth century, as civil rights brought black culture more and more to the surface. It was cheap, delicious, and easy to make in the south where it quickly grew into almost a life style for many African Americans.

There have been opponents of soul food as being a part of black culture, most notably a man by the name of Elijah Muhammad, who led the Nation of Islam. He claimed that the Soul Foods consumed by the vast majority of the African American south were killing them, and to an extent, he could be right. He claimed that over consumption of fried, and often low quality ingredients would lead to rising rates of obesity and diabetes.

Despite this, soul food will remain culturally significant and will remain part of America for a long time because, well, it’s delicious.

1 Comment

One Response to “The Spirit of the South: Soul Food”

  1. Rosario Nail on February 23rd, 2021 4:35 pm

    Great article along with a yummy picture. Great job Mr. Morgan and Julius Fricke!

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