Soul Food

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Soul Food a phrase which came into use in the 1960s, describes the cuisine of African Americans. The expression comes out of the world of popular music but the adjective was widely applied as early as the 1930s to all things black (soul man, soulful). The first soul food cookbook was published in 1968. Typical items of soul food are hominy and grits (see groats); corn breads; black-eyed peas (see cowpea) and collard greens (see kale); chitterlings, hog jowls, and pigs’ feet. The appeal of soul food stretches out beyond ethnic boundaries, appealing to many Americans as part of the American tradition, but especially in the southern states. Harvey Levenstein (1993) describes how urbanized black families reconnected with their country roots by eating soul food. It is yet another instance of how food and group identity have become closely connected.