Born and raised in New York, Irish Catholic to boot, soul food was something that I did not discover until I moved south and became a chef at Duke University. Cooking alongside a marvelous group of true Southerners that included grandmothers, fathers and sons and generations of cousins, I learned first hand the true history of soul food.
Years later when I was the Executive Chef for the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, my kitchen team and I were often asked to prepare the comforts of home cooking for our great hoop stars. They were a bashful bunch but every now and again they would peek into the kitchen at the Arco Arena, flash a pearly white smile and state “Chef, cook us some food from home.”
NBA players are often misunderstood when it comes to food. People think they eat plentiful and heartily. No doubt they eat mightily, but healthy is the key to these athletes game winning performance. Soul food itself is often misunderstood.
Soul food encompasses recipes of the slavery era with a selection of foods traditionally found in the cuisine of African Americans and is an important part of the cuisines of the American South. Vegetables, breads, grains and livestock are the heart of true soul food.
Where's your favorite place for soul food in Smyrna? Tell us in the comments.
Here in the midst of Black History month, honoring historical African Americans can be both educational and delicious. Living here in the heart of the south, the availability of the key ingredients that are the basis of soul food affords us the opportunity to create quick simple and delicious recipes to share with friends and family.
Get inspired with a few soul food menu basics:
- Boil a pot of black eyed peas with sliced jalapenos, chopped sweet onions and bacon.
- Fry up a batch of okra cornmeal bacon and Vidalia onion fritters and you have magic in your kitchen.
- Create delicious collard greens with country ham, bacon and chopped sweet onions.
- Dried red beans cooked with rice, celery, garlic, sweet green peppers, Andouille sausage and a dash of hot sauce, provides just the right kick of soul.
- Buttermilk fried chicken with cayenne pepper; seasoning salt, flour and paprika creates the perfect soulful recipe.
- Fried catfish lightly coated with garlic powder, salt, pepper and cracker meal is so simple and delicious.
- Brown sugar mustard rubbed pulled pork served with sweet hot & tangy chow chow relish.
- Skillet buttermilk cornbread served with molasses is the true taste of the south.
- For the perfect ending to your soul food celebration bake a sweet potato pie with cinnamon and ginger.
You can celebrate Black History Month by attending the Hands, Feet and Mouth organization's Black History program at Campbell Middle School Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. Cost of admission is $2.
The following week, Campbell High School hosts a Martin Luther King humanitrian awards program Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony honors students, staff and community members who exemplify the attributes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Earlier this month Whitefield Academy celebrated Black History Month by inviting the community to a screening of the film "Double Victory," a companion to the movie "Red Tails" about the Tuskeegee Airmen. After the movie Edgar Lewis, a Tuskegee Airman, and Zellie Rianey Orr, president of the Atlanta Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen, answered questions from the audience.