Ancestral Cooking Forum
History of Soul Food Movement
african american cookbook collection
(Tuscaloosa News/Michael E. Palmer)
Books trace history of soul food movement
According to the W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library Public & Outreach Services Coordinator Jessica Lacher-Feldman, the David Walker Lupton collection of African-American cookbooks is unique in tracing the history of the soul food movement, which is centered around African-American cooking, with traditional recipes that remain popular today.
'I see these books as a way of understanding ‘soul food' in a couple of different ways.,' Lacher-Feldman said.
Foods like greens, especially the tops of turnips, dandelion greens and the lesser cuts of meat such as pig's feet, organs and pieces like the tongue and tail, how these things are used and made palatable and why these ingredients are still used and coveted as delicacies today.'
The collection documents the soul food movement from its origins and into kitchens today in more healthy incarnations.
A characteristic of true African-American soul food is that nothing is wasted.
According to 'The Healthy Soul Food Cookbook,' a cookbook in the collection, 'an African American table may be filled with such soul food staples as collard greens, ham hocks, corn bread, and sweet potato pie. The good news has always been that soul food is delicious, hearty and laden with tradition. The bad news is that much of it is also laden with fat, cholesterol, sodium and excess sugar.'
While adding heavy fats and sugar was important during slavery, to give those who ate the food the energy to work, the same is no longer true today.
'Our lives have changed dramatically since then. And many of us, as our forebears did, stir in as much butter, lard, and fatty pan drippings as it takes to make a dish taste wonderful. Numerous research studies have proven that excess fat increases the risk of dying prematurely from heart disease or cancer. Soul food — our fabled, spirited fare — is frequently too high in fat and salt, and a link to numerous and widespread health problems in our community,' according to Jonell Nash, the author of 'Low-Fat Soul.'
Max Young, a nutritionist in Denver, said her concerns about soul food center around quantity and fat content.