Much information has been disseminated in publications and across the internet regarding the History, foundation and definition of Soul Food. Most scholars and publications are merely touching the surface on such a vital topic. The prevailing information on the subject is unfinished. There is much work to be done. This subject matter is far too historically significant to get it wrong. Even Wikipedia has it wrong. I’ve tried to contribute to the definition of Soul Food but my file was deleted by an administrator at Wikipedia. Go Figure! Apparently someone at Wikipedia doesn’t want you to hear the truth. Allowing a low level administrator with little or no subject knowledge to have control over the course of History is a very dangerous thing. Well that’s too bad. Here it is anyway!
“History cannot afford to finance inaccuracies and misrepresentation”
Soul Food and the Civil Rights Era by Chef Emanuel Washington
During the 1950’s -1960’s civil rights movement, America had reached its boiling point. This was a most difficult period in our Nation’s History. America was a Nation divided. African Americans played a very integral role in not only the foundation of America, but they were the dominant driving force behind building and establishing America as the most powerful Nation on Earth. Yet, most still lived in social isolation and economic destitution. As such, they decided to go it alone. In an effort to put a stamp on the litany of contributions made to America; designations like Soul Food, Soul music, Soul Brother, Soul Sister and everything else Soul were adopted.
Soul brands were espoused by African Americans as a means of identifying, claiming, and protecting their rich cultural heritage. The core objective of this cultural rescue effort was to preserve and protect that which was created by their ancestors and to re-install Hope, Pride, Family and Togetherness in the African American Community. This sociological solidarity would embrace all aspects of the African American cultural experience. The Arts were a central focal point. This historic and concerted effort incorporated food, music, dance, etc.
This momentous preservation campaign was very successful. The word ‘Soul’ is a cultural symbol that identifies everything African American. “Soul was a movement” “The Soul Movement is the first cousin of The Civil Rights Movement”
Science: For several decades scientists have deliberated and debated over the history of the Foods and cultures of African Americans, Colonists and Native Americans at the dawn of Colonial American society. Many notable scientists have been contemplating this dilemma for decades. Over the years a good deal of progress has been made in the neighborhood of archaeological research. However, most recently scientists have made many groundbreaking discoveries. Current pioneering research provides indisputable evidence of life in America during the early 1600’s. This clear and precise scientific data challenges previous theories regarding life in Colonial America during this extraordinary era.
During the slave trade, ships were stocked with familiar foods from Africa. These crops were brought on board for the express purpose of feeding the slaves during the passage. Foods such as rice, okra, Green varieties, Sugar, Tania, black eye peas, fish, bread, yams, kidney beans and lima beans were brought directly from Africa to North America. Other provisions were brought along as well. These included but are not limited to peanuts, liquorices’, watermelon, coffee, (Fufu) pancakes, (Hominy) grits, Sorghum, (millet) Grain, limes, pepper varieties, eggplant, flour varieties, sesame and wine. What Americans dotingly refer to as ‘sweet potatoes’; are the ‘Yams’ of yesterday! Highly skilled cooks in the ‘Big House, would eventually introduce all of these foods to European planters.
Note: Every State, Colony, Region, Country or province in the World has its own identifiable agricultural characteristics and distinctions that are unique to their relevant cultures and geography. Food has a DNA. History and Science provides evidence of its origin. It does not matter who that people is or where they came from. If you follow the food, you will learn the History of that people. “Food tells the History of a people” Science proves that the birth of Soul Food occurred right here in America over 400 years ago.
The Definition: “Soul Food is American Food in it’s purest form”. The term Soul Food denotes America. Although many of the food stuffs have African origin, it is quite different from the foods of Africa. Food is regional. Even within the continents of Africa and North America, foods vary significantly from province to province, region to region and state to state.
What is Soul Food exactly?
* Soul Food is a combination of some traditional foods from the main house
* Fish and crustaceans caught in North American waterways
* Foods hunted and trapped in Americas woods and forests
* Local and regionally grown herbs and spices
* Foods cultivated and harvested from American soil
* Foods introduced to African Americans by Europeans
* Grains and spices introduced by Native Americans
* Proverbial provisions from Africa
* Cooking styles and techniques from Africa
* Cooking styles and 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. Over this 400+ year episode in American History, Soul Food has evolved into a World class Food which is revered around the World.