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African American Heritage Week: Soul Food

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  • Tip Bones

I firmly believe that food unites peoples from all backgrounds. The best example that I can think of is what many in the American South (and across the nation, or even world) have come to know as 'soul food.' But what is it? Who came up with cornbread, hushpuppies, fried okra, and jambalaya? We have the heritage of the African American community to thank.

That's not to say that African American culture is solely responsible for the great Southern tradition of barbeque pork ribs. But the original tradition began with limited supplies and memories of traditional African foods. In colonial America, African slaves were given limited rations. Among these were basics such as cornmeal, which led to the invention of breaded and fried meats and vegetables. This food, nicknamed 'soul food' during the 1960s and 1970s became common through the South, and later spread to other states. Restaurants serving soul food were often owned by African American people, and were hubs of community that were known for their hospitality and emphasis on togetherness. Over time, the food inherited traditions of Native American and European cuisine.

It's one of the many things we should be thankful for this Black History Month. Pass the fried okra!

Photo: Pixabay