Here we are at the end of an amazing month, abundant with historical and present examples of black bliss. It is incredibly hard to completely capture every crack and crease of such a colorful story, but in my opinion, I saved one of the best for last.
Get ready for your mouth to water, because I’m about to dive into the “don’t run in my kitchen” and “baby, go on and get you another plate” aspect of black culture soul food.
What exactly is soul food? According to Urban Dictionary, soul food is “an African-American cuisine usually including macaroni, fried chicken, collard greens, yams, mashed potatoes, rolls and occasional sweet peas. Typically it is mastered by one’s grandmother and cannot be duplicated by anyone else.” While Urban Dictionary was mostly correct, I’ll tell you what soul food really is.
Soul food isn’t just food one simply consumes, soul food is the memories attached to food that melts in your mouth. Soul food is the growling of stomachs from having to smell collard greens simmer in the pot all night so they’ll be ready by the morning. Soul food is the bite you take of slow cooked meat that falls of the bone, coated in barbecue sauce, as your uncle eagerly waits for a satisfied reply from your messy lips. It is the Kool-Aid your mother blames for your cavities, yet no one stops you from drinking. It is the pinch on the arm from your mother that warns you to stop wiggling around during the closing prayer at church because you can’t stop thinking about the strawberry cream cake waiting for you at home when the service ends.
And specifically, for college students, soul food is the warm hug you’ve been waiting for after weeks of ramen that first year. It is the “what the hell was I thinking when I left home?” withdrawals we are all guilty of. For me, soul food was the tears I broke into after the first spoonful of candied cabbage that entered my mouth on my the first trip back home since I had left for college. My mama raised my head, wiped my tears and told me, “baby , you may not always be able to have my cooking, but you’ll always have every memory that came with it.” She’s right. She always is.
Soul Food is one of the many avenues of love the black culture celebrates in the month of February. I’m pretty sure I’ve made it clear that food is not only what it contains; it can be much more especially to any culture that had no choice but to find it dear. If you’re ever craving some rich and hearty goodness, check out my favorite soul food restaurant in San Antonio, Mrs. Kitchen Soul Food Restaurant and Bakery; it hits very close to any home.
Lastly, to all the readers who have followed the stories of myself and many others this month in the Paisano’s Black History Month column, I hope I have painted images you can begin to love and see for yourself. Thank you for allowing your eyes to race along the lines of what I and many others really have to say. It means the world.
Love, Peace and Hair Grease; Yours truly.