• Accokeek Foundation

Soul Food: The Food of Love


When I first learned that we were developing a program for Black History Month about the historical and cultural connections to what is commonly classified as soul food, and how it has (or hasn’t) evolved over time, I had some reservations about the topic. Well, not so much the topic, but the term that was associated with it.

For me the typical foods associated with African American cuisine is not soul food, but rather country food. What makes the same food that I grew up eating–fried catfish and Maryland fried chicken, black-eyed pea and ham soup, collards cooked in pork fat (or ‘fat back’), corn pudding, candied yams and sweet potato casserole–soul food? I was perplexed. What’s the difference?

As the programming for Soul Food Justice developed, I did a little research and continued to learn more about this topic of apparent interest. According to Adrian Miller, author of Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time, there really isn’t much of a difference. In an interview with UNC Press, Miller states that, “inside the South, the distinctions between [southern cooking and soul food] are so subtle that it almost seems meaningless.” This answer really didn’t satisfy my curiosity.

Accokeek Foundation president and CEO, Lisa Hayes, says, "Snow will not stop the show!"

Accokeek Foundation president and CEO, Lisa Hayes, says, “Snow will not stop the show!”

On February 21, despite the snowstorm that blasted the D.C. region, four local food experts came together at Joe’s Movement Emporium for an evening that fed both the bodies and the minds of all of us curious souls. Arcadia’s culinary educator, JuJu Harris, moderated the panel which included historian, food scholar and author, Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson; founder of NativSol Kitchen, Tambra Raye Stevenson; and Christopher Bradshaw, founder and director of Dreaming Out Loud.