Soul Food: poor cuisine born from the African-American community – Italian Cuisine


Soul Food is the cuisine of the African-American community born in the south of the United States, characterized by poor and genuine ingredients and closely linked to the history of their culture and their emancipation

For Soul Food, or "soul food" means the Traditional cuisine from the African community in the southern United States. Although the term was coined in the sixties, a period in which the first cookbooks also saw the light, Soul Food has its roots in the period of slavery and in the following 100 years. The African-American community, in fact, accustomed since the past to using economic and local ingredients, has carried on this culinary tradition, giving life to a poor and simple cuisine, but rich in flavor. The food of the soul, over time, ended up influencing the cuisine of the whole country and spreading to the rest of the world, where it is now highly appreciated and rediscovered.

History and evolution of African-American "soul" cuisine

The history of soul cooking has gone hand in hand with that of the emancipation of this community and represents an important component of this culture. Its characteristic flavors, long preparations and many of the recipes conceived and handed down for generations, became famous in the sixties, thanks to the rise of black nationalist movements. In particular the term Soul Food was coined in 1962 by Amiri Baraka, activist, poet and leading figure in the fight to claim the rights of black American citizens. Responding to the widespread prejudice that his community "did not have a language or a characteristic cuisine", he collected in an essay the best of African-American cuisine, specifying that it was precisely a "popular cuisine of the soul" that came directly by migrants from the south and that was for them reason for pride. THE first soul cookery books began to appear in progressive book stores in the 60's then spread in the 70s, while the first restaurant was opened in Harlem in 1962 by Sylvia Woods, known as the "queen of Soul Food".
The restaurants of the soul then began to make their appearance in the large metropolises of the country, with an increasingly diverse clientele, and this cuisine was soon recognized and loved nationally.

Popular ingredients, characteristics and recipes

Soul cooking is pretty spicy, rich in aromas and seasonings, and contemplates the use of offal and "waste" parts of the pig as well as poor, accessible, substantial and versatile ingredients such as corn flour.
But let's see specifically which are the most used ingredients. The king of the meats is precisely the pig, of which every part is used, including the fat for frying or the lard used for many sweet and savory recipes. There corn flour it is used in many ways and many preparations, including corn bread, a sort of fried pancake called johnnycake and round pancakes called hush puppies. On the legumes and vegetables front, Soul Food is characterized by awide variety of beans and peas, while vegetables are divided between those of African origin, such as okra and sweet potatoes, or American ones, such as cabbage and turnips. Between most famous soul recipes the chicken, smoked pork belly, catfish main courses, beef ribs, Hoppin 'John (a soup made with bacon and black-eyed beans) and potato salad stand out. Dishes are often seasoned with a spicy vinegar and chilli sauce, with a spicy blend of spices called Cajun or with mayonnaise.

THE contemporary cooks who try their hand at cooking Soul Food, often make it more "healthy", limiting or avoiding the use of animal fats such as lard, replacing rapeseed oil with other vegetable oils and inserting leaner cuts of meat.

Photo: corn pancakes hush puppies_soul food_Flickr Christine Wisnieski.jpg
Photo: soul food soup hoppin 'john_Flickr Jeffreyw.jpg
Photo: fried chicken soul food_Flickr stu_spivack.jpg

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