White rice is also popular because it was a major part of the diet in West Africa.
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African Americans infuse plain rice dishes with their own savory ingredients popular rice dishes include gumbo and "hoppin' John," a dish made with rice, black-eyed peas, and salt pork or bacon. Popular southern foods, such as the vegetable okra brought to New Orleans by African slaves , are often attributed to the importation of goods from Africa, or by way of Africa, the West Indies, and the slave trade.
Okra, which is the principal ingredient in the popular Creole stew referred to as gumbo, is believed to have spiritual and healthful properties.
Other common foods that are rooted in African-American culture include black-eyed peas, benne seeds sesame , eggplant, sorghum a grain that produces sweet syrup and different types of flour , watermelon, and peanuts. Though southern food is typically known as "soul food," many African Americans contend that soul food consists of African-American recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, just like other African-American rituals. The legacy of African and West Indian culture is imbued in many of the recipes and food traditions that remain popular today.
The staple foods of African Americans, such as rice, have remained largely unchanged since the first Africans and West Indians set foot in the New World, and the southern United States , where the slave population was most dense, has developed a cooking culture that remains true to the African-American tradition.
This cooking is aptly named southern cooking, the food, or soul food. Over the years, many have interpreted the term soul food based on current social issues facing the African-American population, such as the civil rights movement. Many civil rights advocates believe that using this word perpetuates a negative connection between African Americans and slavery. However, as Doris Witt notes in her book Black Hunger , the "soul" of the food refers loosely to the food's origins in Africa. In his essay "Soul Food," Amiri Baraka makes a clear distinction between southern cooking and soul food.
To Baraka, soul food includes chitterlings pronounced chitlins , pork chops, fried porgies, potlikker, turnips, watermelon, black-eyed peas, grits, hoppin' John, hushpuppies, okra, and pancakes.
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Today, many of these foods are limited among African Americans to holidays and special occasions. Southern food, on the other hand, includes only fried chicken, sweet potato pie, collard greens, and barbecue, according to Baraka. The idea of what soul food is seems to differ greatly among African Americans. In it was reported that there is little difference between the type of foods eaten by whites and African Americans.
There have, however, been large changes in the overall quality of the diet of African Americans since the s.
In , African Americans were more than twice as likely as whites to eat a diet that met the recommended guidelines for fat , fiber , and fruit and vegetable intakes. By , however, 28 percent of African Americans were reported to have a poor-quality diet, compared to 16 percent of whites, and 14 percent of other racial groups. The diet of African Americans is particularly poor for children two to ten years old, for older adults, and for those from a low socioeconomic background.
Of all racial groups, African Americans have the most difficulty in eating diets that are low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This represents an immense change in diet quality. Some explanations for this include: 1 the greater market availability of packaged and processed foods ; 2 the high cost of fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean cuts of meat; 3 the common practice of frying food; and 4 using fats in cooking.
Although there is little overall variability in diets between whites and African Americans, there are many notable regional influences. Many regionally influenced cuisines emerged from the interactions of Native American, European, Caribbean, and African cultures. After emancipation, many slaves left the south and spread the influence of soul food to other parts of the United States. Barbecue is one example of Africaninfluenced cuisine that is still widely popular throughout the United States.
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The Africans who came to colonial South Carolina from the West Indies brought with them what is today considered signature southern cookery, known as barbacoa, or barbecue. The original barbecue recipe's main ingredient was roasted pig, which was heavily seasoned in red pepper and vinegar.
But because of regional differences in livestock availability, pork barbecue became popular in the eastern United States, while beef barbecue became popular in the west of the country. Cajun and Creole cooking originated from the French and Spanish but were transformed by the influence of African cooks.
African chefs brought with them specific skills in using various spices, and introduced okra and native American foodstuffs, such as crawfish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, and pecans, into both Cajun and Creole cuisine. Originally, Cajun meals were bland, and nearly all foods were boiled.
Rice was used in Cajun dishes to stretch out meals to feed large families. Today, Cajun cooking tends to be spicier and more robust than Creole. Some popular Cajun dishes include pork-based sausages, jambalayas, gumbos, and coush-coush a creamed corn dish.
The symbol of Cajun cooking is, perhaps, the crawfish, but until the s crawfish were used mainly as bait. More recently, the immigration of people from the Caribbean and South America has influenced African-American cuisine in the south. You had to know how to clean a fish or kill a squirrel.
Soul food - Wikipedia
Your livelihood could depend on making a good biscuit. The longer I was there, the more I realized that it was like the South. And they also argue about cooking all the time. It was a rice culture versus a grits culture. My father was appalled when my mother cooked rice with butter. He thought that was sacrilege. So how did your families shape your sense of Southern food?
Black hunger: soul food and America
My mother was an adventurous cook. I went through a vegetarian phase. We had food magazines and food TV, so new stuff was coming in all the time. They cooked for 50 to 60 people at a time. My father was brining chickens all over the house before any chef started doing it, smoking racks of ribs. My grandmother made everything without a recipe: collards, cornbread, poundcake.
Is that what defines soul food for you? The memory, the heritage? How do you preserve that into the future? Soul food is a gospel, and chefs are its preachers. Get regular updates from NYT Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.
Julia Moskin, a Food reporter since , writes about restaurants, chefs, trends and home cooking. Even before Woods had a chance to accept the green jacket bestowed yearly upon the otherwise fortunate winner, veteran player Fuzzy Zoeller offered his sport's heir apparent some unsolicited advice about how to supervise the menu for the championship dinner: "That little boy is driving well.
You pat him on the back. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell. An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Black Hunger: Food and the Politics of U. Identity By Doris Witt. No cover image. Read preview.