African American Contributions to the Culinary Arts – Part 1

“History is the guardian of fact” One should always be careful with the facts less you reside on the wrong side of History. FACT: Soul Food is ‘Authentic American Food’ and it was created by African Americans. It is more American than Baseball and Apple Pie. Make no mistake; anyone cooking Food created by African American’s and calling it anything other than Soul Food is confused about history, origin and are ill-informed about who has created and prepared this food for centuries.

Soul Food Defined

  • Soul Food is a combination of foods harvested from American soil
  • Fish and crustaceans caught in North American waterways
  • Foods hunted and trapped in Americas woods and forests
  • Locally grown herbs and spices
  • Proverbial provisions from Africa
  • Grains and spices introduced by Native Americans
  • Foods introduced to African Americans by Europeans
  • Cooking styles and techniques from Africa
  • Cooking techniques formed in the Americas
  • New Foods and new cuts of meats
  • Herbs and Spices from around the World

Collectively, all of these components have fashioned what the World reverences today as Soul Food. Soul Food is a combination of all these things. These combinations of food stuffs were taken and artistically modified to meet the specifications of a more urbane African American pallet.

For over three Hundred years these compilations of foods, herbs and spices were taken into the Planters kitchens and prepared by African Americans. In these very kitchens is where miracles happened and where America’s priceless culinary masterpieces were created.

The following is a partial list of some Classic Soul Food Dishes.

  • Barbeque Ribs, Fried Chicken, Smothered Chicken, Barbeque Chicken, Stewed Chicken, Fried Fish, Chicken Fried Steak, Smothered Steak, Crab Cakes, Smothered Pork Chops, Chicken and Dumplings, Oxtails, Fish and Grits, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, kale, Dirty Rice, Okra Perlou, Okra and Tomato’s, Hoppin John, Grits, Grillades, Jambalaya, Gumbo, Beef Stew, Wild Game, Neck Bones, Dressin’, Salmon Croquettes, Trout, Bluegill, Large and Small Mouth Bass, Silver Bass, Catfish, Snapper, Fried corn, Meatloaf, Potato Salad, Cornbread, Hush Puppies, Hoecakes, Corn Pone, Hot Water Cornbread, Spoon Bread, Molasses, Sorghum Syrup, Black Eye Peas, Navy Beans, Crowder Peas, Pole Beans, Butter Beans, String Beans, Smothered Cabbage, Fried Cabbage, Pickled Beets, Hominy, Lima Beans, Baked Beans, Pinto Beans, Red Beans and Rice, Crab Bakes, Succotash, Sweet Potato’s, Candied Yams, Cracklin’, Chow Chow, Apple Butter, Deviled Eggs, Biscuits, Red Eye Gravy, Sausage Gravy, Tomato Gravy, Raisin Gravy, Macaroni and Cheese, Hot Sauce, She-Crab Soup, Catfish Stew, Shrimp Etouffee, Smoked Meats and Fish, Fried Turkey, Ham Hocks, Souse, Head Cheese, Watermelon, Peaches, Pecans, Fruit Punch, Sweet Tea etc.
  • Desserts: Sweet Potato Pie, Pecan Pie, Rhubarb Pie, Lemon Pie, Key Lime Pie, Chess Pie, Buttermilk Pie, Egg Pie, Mud Pie, Banana Pudding, Bread Pudding, Rice Pudding, Pound Cake, Yellow Cake, Jelly Cake, Caramel Cake, 7up Cake, Coconut Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Orange Glaze Cake, Chocolate Cake, Peach Cobbler, Blackberry, Blueberry and Apple Cobblers etc.  That’s just to name a few!  

All of these incredible dishes were created by African Americans and shared with the World. This fact will forever live in History. Any and ALL other claims on these foods is disingenuous. It never happened!

“Those that cook the food the best are the very ones that created it” EW 

"Those that cook the food the best are the very ones that created it"

Chef Emanuel’s ‘AUTHENTIC Barbeque Ribs’

Many understandably want to share in the remarkable genius, stature and proceeds of Soul Food. Yet, some knowingly and deliberately give no credit to those that actually created it!

Television cooking shows should not be your primary source of culinary information. They are not a practicable surrogate for culinary curriculum or historical reference. These shows are produced for entertainment purposes only and should be viewed as such!

Some are quite skilled at camouflaging truth! The mere fact that everyone wants a piece of American Food History is testament to the remarkable genius of Soul Food. Soul Food has influenced foods, cultures, cooking styles and techniques from around the World.

 “Soul Food is to America what a Mother is to a child.”   

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2 Responses to African American Contributions to the Culinary Arts – Part 1

  1. clarence mcgee says:

    GREAT INFORMATION CHEF.
    I WISH AFRICAN AMERICANS CAN, ONE DAY, PRODUCE A TELEVISED FOOD SHOW.

    • Chef Emanuel says:

      Thank you CLARENCE, It’s long overdue. NOT sure what they are thinking. It has to be the right person and I haven’t seen that yet. All the current people are trying to copy me. Perhaps it’s my time. I am certainly available…

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