Soul Food History

A Short History of

What is Soul Food’s History?

Coutesy of

Well, to begin with, soul food comes from within. It is a particular style
of cooking which gains its roots from the deep American South, when
Black folks were enslaved.


Given the ‘left over scraps’, the slaves didn’t complain about what
they got; they just got on with cookin’ up some of the tastiest food
in giant seasoned cast iron pots.


Traditionally their rations consisted of corn, bacon or salt pork,
molasses, flour, seasonal fruits and vegetables. With these few
items a variety of wholesome dishes were created. Black people
learnt how to use everything; nothing was wasted.


If the master ate the leg of pork, the slaves enjoyed a succulent pig’s
foot, and the delicious innards of the pig, the intestines, commonly
known as chit’lin’s (my favourite).



These dishes along with many others were passed down from
generation to generation. So too was the sheer pride in
knowing how to live off the land and the ability to hunt.


Slaves weren’t allowed to bear arms, so they developed the skills
to hunt. If it moved they caught it. Squirrels, racoons, rabbits,
and an assortment of wild birds, chickens, turkeys, ground hogs,
and even the occasional bear.


They would plant the fields with whatever seeds were made available
to them. They learnt how to use what many people would regard as
weeds, using the tops from many root vegetables.


Now while all this creative cooking was happening, there was an
awful lot of singing and dancing going on. Mostly spiritual
singing from the soul, asking the Lord to set them free and
give them the strength to endure their entrapment.


Although most of the music was gospel there was also a lot of jiggin’
going on, with a jazzy and blues feeling to their songs.


As the years went by this blues sound was evolved into what we now
call soul music. Music sung from the soul to accompany our food…Soul Food.


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