This Special Ingredient Is What Makes “Soul Food” So Delicious

“[H]am, fried-potatoes, scrambled-egg, breakfast in the morning air; fried fish and pan-cooked biscuits on the hind side of noon … We were all there … bound by something we could not name.” When Toni Morrison wrote these words, she understood something crucial about why our cooking is so important.

This Special Ingredient Is What Makes “Soul Food” So Delicious
Via Wikipedia

The relationship between our physical well-being and our food is undeniable, but there’s another truth about food that we have known since the beginning of time. This knowledge has helped our people survive colonialism, enslavement, Jim Crow, white terrorism, and modern-day institutional racism.

Cooking! It’s an act of love for our families that says that “love is here,” even when the rest of the world makes that hard to believe.

Even when we need to heal ourselves, the simple act of baking a cake or cobbler can help us manage anger, hurt, or plain exhaustion. But what’s so special about the love we put into our food?

The dishes we cook connect us directly to the Southern places where Black people experienced the horrors of enslavement. Okra, fried fish, cornbread, greens, and other delicious staples represent resilience from white supremacy. So why do we call it “soul” food?

In the 1940s, Black jazz artists, sick of white people stealing their sound, added musical elements impossible for white people to duplicate. They called it “soul.” That description spread throughout our culture, including our food.

Cooking soul food has been a way for our families to survive, connect, and celebrate. Even if you don’t consider yourself a cook, what memories of sharing food bring you joy?

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