Soul Food has been apart of my life every since my first bite of food. It's apart of my heritage, my family and I take great pride in it. Soul Food recipes have been passed down through my family for generations; from my great grandmother in back woods of Bainbrige, Ga. to my grandmother and mother in Orlando, Fl. and down to my sisters and I. Cooking a bonding experience and tradition between family members, especially between the older generation and the younger generation because they pass down traditions.

I hope that the recipes listed on this site will mean as much to you and your family as it is to my family and I.


A Lesson in Soul Food

Soul Food Origins

Soul Food is traditional African-American cuisine that originated in the South. This specialty food received its name during the 1960s when it became common to use “soul” to describe things in black culture.

Although the name is fairly new, the food is much older. Historians trace soul food origins back to Africa. According to culinary historians, during African exploration in 1400s European explorers introduced their food supplies into the African diet. When the slave trade began, these food ways traveled too because indigenous African crops began to sprout in America.

Since enslaved persons weren’t given their choice of food, the had to (in the words of my grandmother) “make do” with throw-away food from the plantation’s main house. For instance, recipes were made from discarded meat from the main house such as pig feet, chitterlings (pig intestines), gizzards, and ham hocks. With food choices scarce, there was no room for waste. Left over fish became croquettes by adding cornmeal, egg, seasoning and deep-frying it, stale bread became bread pudding and so on.

After a long, hard day of working, dinner time was a sigh of relief. It was when families got together to converse and recite oral histories.

Soul Food vs. Southern Cooking

Many people ask what the difference is between. The main difference is that Soul Food is traditional more flavorful than Southern cooking because of the heavy use of seasonings. As my family history says (therefore making it the truth to me) is that enslaved blacks were cooks on plantations and taught many southern whites how to cook. Although the food may be the same seasoning and preparation may be different, and that's where the diffence lies.

A common misconception

One of the most common misconceptions that I hear about Soul Food is that the cook doesn't measure his or her's ingredients. The truth of the matter is that certain ingredients aren't measured, "you just know" how much to put in. When I was first learning to cook, I would ask my mother and grandmother how much of an ingredient to use. And I would always hate their answer "you just know" how much to put in. I think that Rachel Ray simplifies that answer in t.v. show by saying to just "eye ball it" (as in how much of an ingredient you use). For instance, you may ask how much seasoning to use when preparing a dish, but really it depends on your liking. However, it all comes with experience, once you've cooked for a while and are familiar with the food, you learn to "just know" how much to add.

Soul Food Variations

One of the best things about Soul Food recipes is that its ingredients and even cooking methods varies. Although it may be a little inappropriate to say since we are talking about food, but the old saying holds true that there is more than one way to skin a cat. For instance, I've seen at least a dozen ways to make cornbread. Some people use real corn in the mixture, some people use sugar and some people fry the cornbread instead of baking it (this variation is known as "Ho' Cakes" and is delicious).

Variations in cooking ingredients and methods existed because many enslaved persons could not read or write so the recipes were passed on orally.

The best advice I can give is that you really learn what you like and dislike about a recipe and taylor it to fit your taste. Simply make it your own. And voila! You will have a recipe that you will love forever!

Regional Soul Food

Different regions of the country have their own special foodways. South Carolina is where the Low Country cuisine was born. Ingredients special to this cuisine are crabs, oysters, shrimp, rice and sweet potatoes. The Creole Cuisine exists in Louisiana and is at the heart of New Orleans.