Soul food, the term commonly used to describe the traditional food of African Americans, is one example of how a food style doesn’t need to be new in order to be trendy. The Daily Mail reports that soul food-influenced menu items like okra, fried green tomatoes, and smothered pork chops have been showing up on New York menus, inarguably one of the best places for food trends to begin.
Soul Food History
NPR says that the soul food pyramid shows influences of food from the American South, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Greens have a prominent place on the pyramid (spinach, chard, collards, and kale), as do vegetables like okra and eggplant, with beans and meats rounding out the list. The origins of this diet can be traced back to the days of the African slave trade, when plantation owners often gave fed their captives leftover scraps and produce waste. Often slaves were given the greens from turnips, dandelions, and turnips, and animal scraps like ham hocks, pigs’ feet, tripe, and oxtail. These foods are still seen on soul food menus today.
Soul Food Recipe
Smothered Collard Greens and Cabbage
1/2 pound chopped bacon
1/2 large chopped onion
5 leaves rinsed, trimmed, and chopped collard greens
1 teaspoon greens seasoning
1 head chopped cabbage
1 pinch white sugar
Fry bacon and onion in a large skillet over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until back is crisp. Stir in collard greens and season with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of greens seasoning. Stir together for 5 minutes.
Add in darker cabbage leaves, then cook for about 5 minutes or until cabbage leaves are tender. Stir in remaning cabbage, then season with salt, pepper, sugar, and another 1/2 teaspoon of greens seasoning. Cover and cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Greens are done when tender.
In a time where so much food science and avant garde techniques are available, it can be quite rewarding to look to the past for meal planning ideas. Try looking to the long history of soul food for inspiration.
- “How Soul Food Can Be Good For Your Health”, NPR
- “The South rises again… In New York City: Soul food tops restaurant trends according to latest Zagat Guide”, Daily Mail
Better meals begin with better planning. We can help.