What is Soul Food? Essay

1004 Words 5 Pages
What is Soul Food?

All ethnic groups have their own language, food, and way of living. Some can even call their food, “soul food.” Soul food can be described as “food made with feeling and care,” but in America, soul food simply refers to African-American cuisine (A History of Soul Food). In Imamu Amiri Baraka’s essay, “Soul Food” he describes how shocked he was to read an article that stated how “African-Americans have no language and no characteristic food.” So he argued against that supposed fact. I too was shocked and am agreeing with Baraka’s argument. African-Americans have had soul food for hundreds of years, if anything that is all they have ever had. Since slaves had no control or choice in life, cooking became a way
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Food became comfort during slavery and because they could control cooking, it was one of their few real pleasures and a way to feel free. The history of “soul food” is seen in the traditions that were passed down from generation to generation.

The traditions of soul food depend on ones family and where ones family is from. For instance, my family is originally from Chicago, Illinois and we eat soul food on holidays, during family reunions, and Sunday dinners. Sunday dinners are common in most families and became that way because it was a time for families to get together. They can be compared to the “good times” meals of the old days. For Sunday dinners it was common for relatives to travel some distance just for a good home cooked meal. Relatives such as aunts, uncles, and cousins (both pretend and real) would come together to the house with the best-cooked food. In my family, holidays are the main event for soul food. Sometimes we would have a potluck because it is easier to feed fifty or more people that way. The food that is cooked also depends on where one is from. An old traditional dish that is in my family is called “monkey bread.” “Monkey bread” is homemade bread made in the shape of rolls and is stacked on each other in a cake pan.

In relation to Baraka’s essay, he states how “restaurants in Harlem whose staple is fried chicken, or chicken