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<img src="http://forums.egullet.org/uploads/1147109473/gallery_29805_1195_15985.jpg" hspace="8" align="left">by Shaun Chavis

Drive into Chapel Hill, North Carolina on a typical March weekend, and you'll see Franklin Street humming with students and alumni, many wearing Carolina sky blue. Spot a few people on street corners holding signs that read, "I need tickets," and you'll know the madness is hours away from its peak. This is where Michael Jordan played basketball for Dean Smith, it's where legendary battles are fought on the hardwood every spring, and it's where pride bursts like the wide-open flowers of the dogwood trees.

The Tobacco Road rivalry is just one battle with Southern roots:you don't have to drive far from Chapel Hill to walk across Civil War battlefields. There's another ongoing struggle with roots in the American South, one without territory or uniforms. It's a war about identity and acknowledgment, things any proud person would fight for. This battle gained voice in Oxford, Mississippi, on the campus of Ole Miss, where writers, chefs, restaurateurs, historians, and other members of the Southern Foodways Alliance gathered to talk about race, food, and the South in October 2004. Passions rose as people tugged over Southern food and soul food, debating which cuisine came from where, who taught whom how to cook, and whether there ought to be just one name for both.

You might look at this scene and wonder why it exists. You'd rather go get some deviled eggs or fried chicken. As long as it tastes good and the sweet tea keeps comin' (or maybe you'd prefer Tennessee whiskey), who cares if it’s Southern or soul? Certainly there are better things to debate, and even so, you're not going to get into them now, not with that Jack Daniel's in your hand.

Dr. Jessica Harris is a member of the SFA, an author, and a culinary historian. She's got an explanation worth thinking about. "Your food is your heritage. We're passionate about it because in some cases we didn't get it when we were growing up. Certainly for African Americans, it is one of the few things we can claim, and need to claim, and are discussing it. I think the passion comes from that. And certainly there is a subcutaneous discussion: somewhere in that room, someone's granddad owned someone else's granddad. All the more so, we grew it, cooked it, served it, cleaned up the waste it caused, and didn't always get to eat it. That's a big problem."

The notion of getting rid of either name, Southern or soul, is enough to offend, because you're not just talking about renaming food. "It's an emotional, valid, African American identity. It's an emotional trigger," said Nathalie Dupree, SFA member and cookbook author who is white. "I think the emotionalism is that white people, too, think this is their food."

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In Chapel Hill, one street over from Franklin, on Rosemary, is a restaurant Michael Jordan himself enjoyed, a place where food writer Craig Claiborne found a suitable plate of chitterlings. It looks like a one-story house with a wrap-around porch filled with chairs and tables. A sign out front, shaped like a kettle, reads "Mama Dip's Traditional Country Cooking." On a typical weekend, you may circle a few times looking for a parking space, and then wait 45 minutes for a table. Yet the lobby still fills with people of all ages and races, some wearing their Sunday best, some wearing Carolina colors, all dressed with devotion. A board lists the day's specials: fresh flounder, fresh oysters, collards, corn pudding, pineapple coconut cake, rum raisin bread pudding, and blueberry cobbler. At the bottom, in sky blue letters: "Go Heels!" A gray-haired white gentleman calls out, "There she is. Dip, come on out heah!" Out of the kitchen comes a black woman in her mid-70s, six feet and one inch tall, wearing a brown and black dotted short-sleeve blouse. This is Mildred Council, also known as Mama Dip.

No one's ever uncomfortable at Dip's, because comfort's right there on your plate: fried green tomatoes, served piping hot as any fried food should be, with the taste of the sun's warmth in them. The mac and cheese is so creamy, you want a spoon to gather all the sauce. A light sweetness kisses the yams. The biscuits are small by commercial super-sized standards, but what's size got to do with it? They're two inches across, if that, and as high as they are wide, ideal carriers for butter or the savory juices on your plate. Peach cobbler in March is just as delicious as in August, because Council buys locally-grown peaches and freezes them for meals like this. The cobbler's so good, you don't want to eat anything else for the rest of the day so you can savor its lingering flavors.

You'll find some of the same ingredients used at Magnolia Grill, a restaurant in Durham that's about a 20-minute drive away from Mama Dip’s. From the outside, the restaurant itself is a delicate green building that gives little hint to what Ben and Karen Barker have built inside. Here, the couple interprets Southern food with the elegance and creative mix appropriate for fine dining, and they've done it to national acclaim. Just as you feel warmly welcomed at Mama Dip's, you're no less cared for at Magnolia Grill. Paintings spill their colors into the room; warm lighting and thoughtfully spaced tables create a space just as right for treating your mother on her birthday as it is for charming a lover. The Barkers give passionate attention to the food as well: Ben knows exactly what's on your plate before the waiter carries it to your table. "I hope to retire before I can't see all the food go away from me," he says.

Magnolia Grill's menu changes with the seasons. They cure pork themselves and preserve locally-grown produce for use in off-season months. At any time, you may find greens, ham hocks, grits, pork chops, or sweet potatoes mingling with other, exotic flavors: twice-baked grits souffle with wild and exotic mushroom ragout, aged sherry-mushroom emulsion and shaved confit foie gras, for or curried sweet potato bisque with shrimp, toasted coconut and sultana chutney. For dessert, the Southern combination of peanut butter and bananas morphs into a phyllo Napoleon, with a milk chocolate sauce. The Barkers are aware that Magnolia Grill is the place that visiting Yankees may taste traditional Southern ingredients for the first time. "I guarantee you we're the only white tablecloth restaurant in the Triangle that serves creesy greens," said Ben. (Creesy greens, or creecy greens, grow wild in North America; they have small leaves and are also called dry land cress.)

This corner of North Carolina is as much Ben Barker's home as it is Council's. Barker grew up a few hours' drive away. "My grandparents and my aunt and uncle ran a tobacco farm, and had sharecropped it with neighbors I grew up with who were black. ...I was mostly taken care of, when I would stay with them, by Louise, who was the black lady that minded me like a ma. But I never really thought that there was any difference in the food that we ate, that she fixed or that my aunt fixed or that my grandmother fixed. Their style of cooking was the same, the ingredients that they chose to use was the same."

Move the foie gras aside, and you'll see Magnolia Grill and Mama Dip's share some roots. Both Ben Barker and Council draw on common history and flavors to create their cuisines. Barker's food is Southern, and some call Council's food soul. She, however, doesn't, not even in her first cookbook, Mama Dip's Kitchen. "When the cookbook came out, I called the food country cooking, and then when people started coming in, especially if they were black, they would call it soul food, and I was telling them that my cooking is country cooking because I didn't hear about soul food until in the sixties, during the demonstrations. Blacks became to be more visible on television and out in the world. That's when they started calling it soul food. But our food, the food I cook is just country, because I cook fresh food, fresh vegetables."

You'd be right to think there's not much culinary difference between Southern food and soul food. Pick up a copy of Nathalie Dupree's New Southern Cooking, and you'll find recipes for black-eyed peas with duck giblets, old-style greens and 'pot likker', fried green tomatoes, and peach cobbler. Thumb through Sylvia's Soul Food by Harlem restaurateur Sylvia Woods, and there are recipes for black-eyed peas and rice, collard greens with cornmeal dumplings, fried green tomatoes, and peach cobbler. Or consider the works of Edna Lewis, the Virginia-reared granddaughter of slaves who treated New York to her culinary talent first in the 1940s at Cafe Nicholson. Her published recipes include black-eyed peas in tomato and onion sauce, cooked greens, fried tomatoes, and peach cobbler. Lewis didn't use the term "soul food" in her books; the title of her first is The Taste of Country Cooking.

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People started using the term "soul food" in the sixties, when black Americans were redefining themselves. Men were "soul brothers," women were "soul sisters," and they grooved to "soul music." New Jersey poet and civil rights activist Amiri Baraka is likely the first person to put the words "soul food" into print. In 1962, he wrote an essay addressing another writer's criticism that the problem with "Negroes" in America was that they had no language of their own and no characteristic cuisine -- both elements of cultural identity. "This to me is the deepest stroke, the unkindest cut, of oppression," Baraka wrote, and he pointed out items brought to America from Africa, such as watermelon. He listed the foods on the black American table: sweet potato pies, greens, Hoppin' John, hush puppies and fish sandwiches, all "soul food." Baraka didn't define a cuisine as much as he exposed an element of black American identity, an identity much needed as an anchor during a time when blacks fought through a social storm to gain civil rights.

Just as people used the term "soul" to define themselves and create a community of acceptance and belonging, today groups of people who call themselves neo-Confederates are rallying around their own definition of Southern: a culture they see as primarily Anglo-Celtic. Their adopted language is the King’s English, and their slogan is “heritage, not hate” -- a message many don't buy. "It's by its nature hateful because it's exclusive," said John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance. "They use the term 'Southern culture' and mean white Southern culture. Southern culture is a multi-racial culture. When you talk about the South, you are, whether you know it or not, talking about white folks and black folks, Native Americans, and multiple other origin-points of ethnicities. I think a term like Southern food embraces it all."

Harris, author of The Welcome Table: African American Heritage Cooking, is not sure she likes the term "soul food." "Most African Americans in my experience did not say, 'I'm going to get some soul food' until the sixties," she said. "Bottom line, it was dinner. All cultures have food for the soul, and this is just the food for the soul for African Americans." To Harris, the term "Southern" can also fit. "All soul food is Southern, but not all Southern is soul food, in the sense that most African American food, in the narrow sense, has its genesis in the South. …There are dishes in the Southern culinary lexicon that are not soul food at all -- Country Captain, for example." Country Captain, a chicken stew flavored with curry, is a dish that likely found its origins in India.

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It isn't as if the declaration of a cuisine called "soul food" in the sixties took its dishes off anyone else's table, nor has it kicked anyone out of the kitchen. Fighting over which food is mine,not yours, isn’t the point of the effort to link food and heritage – doing so, to many, is futile. Council, for example, sees her cuisine as American (though you could also call it Southern, soul, or country). "I don't like just to say it's just for blacks, that it represents blacks," Council said. "It's everybody's food. I wouldn't want to say that they took it away from us, like they took a lot of things, but they want to use it, use it."

"The better point made is that there is a debt of acknowledgment that white Southerners owe to black Southerners," said Edge, who is white. "It is a debt of acknowledgment that has not been erased, has not been fully attributed. That's a different matter than saying, 'this food is black folks' food' or 'this food is white folks' food.'"

Ben Barker knows his taste for creesy greens came from his black neighbor Louise, and it's that memory, that flavor, he consciously tries to preserve. "I think it's important to try and keep doing that kind of cooking. Now, because I'm a white guy cooking it, does that mean it's not soul food? Maybe. But Louise used to cook that for me, because she'd gather the greens up on the way over to my aunt's house and she'd fix up creesy greens for lunch. I don't ever remember my aunt cooking creesy greens."

Barker's experience is one example of why it's so difficult to distinguish two separate cuisines. The food, and the people, are mingled. "There is so much integration of foods and attitudes in the South, which perhaps people from the North don't really realize," said Dupree. "In the South, for all of its flaws and difficulties, within the food aspects there has been an enormous cross-over, not just from African Americans working in white homes, but it's from intermarriage, it's from people having farms next to each other. Everything here has been intertwined, which is what has made this a distinct culture."

Economy is also a common element in the foods of the South: what people ate depended more upon resources than ethnicity. "When I talk to some people, they think somebody called it soul food because we like food with the bones in it," Council said. "We like fish with the bones, we like our pieces of meat with the bones, we like the pig tails, we like the neck bones. It was affordable. We're always getting the big packet of pork chops because it's cheaper. It's got more bones it in and it comes from the economy part of the roast, you understand. ...It was about economy, you know, what we could afford. It wasn't about [race], because white people bought those big things too, and they ate them."

Barker agrees, again drawing on his family experience. "I think what most distinguishes [them] in general from an intellectual perspective is the choice of protein that you might use because of the cost of it. But because both families were farm families, the protein that we ate were yard chickens and hog products that they raised themselves."

"The core is, these are the foods of poverty," says Edge. "Granted, African Americans have suffered more at the hands of poverty than perhaps many whites. There's a heck of a lot of poor white folks out there that are gnawing on pork chop bones and eating the hell out of chitterlings, too."

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Culinary historians have traced specific elements in Southern cuisine to their African roots. Okra, watermelon, peanuts, pumpkin, and black-eyed peas, for example, came to the United States from Africa. Techniques such as deep frying, seasoning food with small pieces of smoked meats, and making fritters all have some element of Africa in them.

Dig a little deeper, and you'll discover that peanuts were indigenous to South America and introduced to Africa by Portuguese explorers. The slave trade brought peanuts to North America. The use of nuts and seeds as a thickening agent is also an idea from Africa, but the Arabs were using ground almonds to thicken sauces since the 13th century, and perhaps earlier. Is it possible the Arabs passed that practice on to others as they traveled through North Africa? Some scholars believe black-eyed peas may have come to Africa from Asia. And while we get the word "yam" from Africa, the actual vegetable never made the Atlantic crossing. The American sweet potato became yam's substitute.

Truth be told, throughout history, someone's always swiped ideas from someone else's kitchen.

"You see this over and over again," Dupree said. "You go to an Afghani restaurant and you love the food. And then you get a recipe of something you liked, but you may not have all the ingredients, so you substitute. So then, whose recipe is it? Is it Afghani? Is it yours? The English have always cooked with small pieces of meat and greens. Turnips and rutabagas proliferate there. How do you put your finger on this? So then, you have to ask yourself, why do you want to put your finger on this? The answer is because African Americans have been robbed."

This is why a battle exists. "There are no people who have been less embraced, with possible exception of Indians, than African Americans," said Jessica Harris. "American food is changing like the country is changing. There are all sorts of things that are becoming American – pizza is American, sushi is becoming virtually American, mojitos. I think the slowness with which the food of African Americans has been accepted speaks to the slowness with which the people are being accepted. Go to a Barnes and Noble and look at the cookbooks -- shelves and shelves of Chinese cookbooks, Cuban cookbooks, just about everything outnumbers African American cookbooks."

Chef Ben Barker also senses a lag in racial reconciliation. "I feel like we've come a long way, and not nearly the way we should have come by now," he said. "It seems like to me there was such tremendous progress in the sixties, and then people became apathetic about what it takes to make us a whole country."

The very language used to describe Southern and soul food is a hurdle on the path to harmony, simply because of the politics behind the words. The term "soul food" gives African American heritage an acknowledgment it hasn't fully received, yet signals white Americans are excluded. "Southern" is used by some to encompass a multi-ethnic culture, and by others as a racist code word. "The South has a uniquely troubled history," said Edge. "Even those of us that don't spend a lot of time pondering that, it's kind of subcutaneous. It's still a part of our experience. I think we realize more so -- some of us reluctantly so -- how our food is weighted with this legacy."

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If food is a point of contention, it can also be an agent of unity. The many culinary professionals who attend SFA's symposia know this first hand: they take raw ingredients, apply culinary skill, serve, and watch food build relationships and create life-long memories. It's as awesome as any force of nature. Many in this crowd believe racial reconciliation will happen around the table, and, in fact, they left Ole Miss 19 months ago with a charge to start dialogues around tables in their own communities. “I think it will happen through food, intermarriage -- let's face it, it is happening,” said Nathalie Dupree. “Society is becoming accepting of things that my generation couldn't, things that are very natural and normal. I think food is just one aspect of it. If you can come to my house and enjoy the food and be comfortable, then I think that we have a better chance of having a good conversation."

"I think the simple act of breaking bread together, of that kind of communion in not necessarily the religious sense but in the humanistic sense -- I think that offers opportunities for all," said Edge. "The most intimate act we engage in every single day is eating, and it fosters bonds and breaks down some of those chasms."

"I can feel it," Council agrees. "Since the five years I've been out there, just the five years since I've put the cookbook out, this what I feel all over the country." She likely knows this from daily experience. Council walks through the dining room of her restaurant, going from table to table, often sitting down right next to her customers. "How y'all doin' over here?" she says. The noise is thick: there is clinking of dishes and silverware from the kitchen and a moderate roar of conversation. Now and then you hear her laughter above it all. Sometimes she laughs so hard she takes off her glasses and wipes a tear from her eye. Council has long belonged to this community. In the 40s and 50s, she cooked on campus and for local families. Since she opened her restaurant in 1976, every North Carolina governor and UNC-Chapel Hill president has dined at her tables. It has taken her decades to battle her way from a domestic worker hidden behind kitchen doors to a position of appreciation as a businesswoman whose contributions are honored and sought after. Even after this long time, she may have to confront stereotypes each time a stranger to Mama Dip’s comes in to eat. "I have a lot of white customers and I have black customers," Council said. "I didn't want them to come here, 'let's go get some soul food at Mama Dip's.' I want to be an American woman. You understand? That's what I want to be."

Shaun Chavis (aka shaunchavis) is a soulful Southerner now living up North, where she's finishing a Master of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy at Boston University. She's spent most of her life in newsrooms and kitchens.

Art by Dave Scantland (aka Dave the Cook).

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A marvelous report, and amazingly enough, one about a debate where it seems all parties agree on several key points.

Reading it, I'm reminded once again of an old witticism: "In the South, they don't care how close you get, as long as you don't get too big. In the North, they don't care how big you get, as long as you don't get too close."

Neither is a desirable option, but if I had to choose one of these forms of subjugation as my departure point for improving race relations in America, I'd choose the Southern one, and this article demonstrates why in spades.

The truth is, Southern blacks and Southern whites probably know each other better and more intimately than their counterparts in the North do. If it weren't for that little problem with the whites having owned the blacks' ancestors in the past, and then perpetuating that subservience--and dehumanization--by other legal means after emancipation, the Southerners could probably teach the rest of the country a thing or two or three about living with diversity.

I wish everyone in the Southern Foodways Alliance well in their efforts to construct a Southern past that all who live there now can take part in. I have no illusions that it will be an easy job. But if they can make a stab at it in Colonial Williamsburg, then there's no reason not to push on.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

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I hate to say it but Mama Dips has not really stood the test of time.

I used to eat there when I was in College during the 1970s, before there was any to do about southern food and it was wonderful. I have vivid memories of the pork chops and cornbread, in particular.

Since that time, however, success has led to a relocation, increased prices and, with Mildred Council's aging and/or commitment to other matters, the restaurant is but a shadow of its former self.

I know I am not alone in this view as I have read a number of similar complaints, if not on eGullet, then on other food-related websites.

Sad, that both Mama Dips and Crooks Corner, the two Chapel Hill foodie landmarks, have failed to stand the test of time.

Edited by BrentKulman (log)
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I hate to say it but Mama Dips has not really stood the test of time.

I used to eat there when I was in College during the 1970s, before there was any to do about southern food and it was wonderful.  I have vivid memories of the pork chops and cornbread, in particular.

Since that time, however, success has led to a relocation, increased prices and, with Mildred Council's aging and/or commitment to other matters, the restaurant is but a shadow of its former self.

I know I am not alone in this view as I have read a number of similar complaints, if not on eGullet, then on other food-related websites.

Sad, that both Mama Dips and Crooks Corner, the two Chapel Hill foodie landmarks, have failed to stand the test of time.

Would completely agree with your assessment. So it begs the question, where do you go in lieu of those places? The only must eat place for me right now in chapel hill is Allen & Sons.

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The truth is, Southern blacks and Southern whites probably know each other better and more intimately than their counterparts in the North do.  If it weren't for that little problem with the whites having owned the blacks' ancestors in the past, and then  perpetuating that subservience--and dehumanization--by other legal means after emancipation, the Southerners could probably teach the rest of the country a thing or two or three about living with diversity.

I wish everyone in the Southern Foodways Alliance well in their efforts to construct a Southern past that all who live there now can take part in.  I have no illusions that it will be an easy job.  But if they can make a stab at it in Colonial Williamsburg, then there's no reason not to push on.

Thanks Sandy --

I do agree, there are some things about Southern life that could be gleaned to help improve race relations... I think even something as simple as the Southern custom of saying hello as you walk past a stranger, though it is a small gesture (and one I find I miss, living in Boston), is one that at the least reminds us of each other's humanity.

A number of people told me they believe racial reconciliation will happen through food (I personally think there is something so powerful about sharing a meal together) -- during my research for this story I heard about a number of multi-cultural supper clubs around the country that are seeing success toward this end.

Shaun

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No matter how you feel about the state of the food these days over at Mama Dip's, you can't deny that Ms. Council and her daughters have been vital members of our community and strong advocates for the improvement of community relations. Which, as I read it, is the point of Ms. Chavis' article.

Mama Dip and co. have been instrumental in organizing the Carrboro Community Dinner for the past nine years. It has become a model for towns all across America who wish to reinforce their shared feeling of community through sharing a meal together. I think that's really wonderful.

Bill Smith, the chef at Crook's Corner, is also highly visible in the community (riding his bike around town makes him really visible), as well as an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, most recently visiting New Orleans with a group of chefs and other SFA members to help rebuild restaurants that were damaged by Katrina:rebuilding nola

All of this makes me feel really lucky to live here and enjoy being a part of this wonderful place where people make an effort to overcome and understand differences in order to celebrate our shared culture and community. Okay, that's getting sappy, especially in light of the recent scandals over at Duke, but anyway. Thank you, Shaun, for your enlightening article. I hope to see more on this subject- it is a continuing dialogue.

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A beautiful article. Thank you Shaun. I lived in Chapel Hill (Carrboro) and studied there at the university. Your piece started by bringing back fond memories of a time not so far away, and then developed into something quite special to me. I grew up in a Southern family transplanted to the North, and many of the ideas that you touch on were things I have mused upon over time. Kudos to you for a very well written piece.

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Great piece! Thanks for all the insights on food and race (and on identity and history and...).

Shaun, I'm curious as to why you didn't make direct reference to class. You get kind of close here -- the mention of resources and of poverty -- but don't quite scratch that itch. I don't know enough about southern food culture to imply you should have, btw. It's truly a question borne of curiosity!

Chris Amirault

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Thanks for this -- I so appreciate it! I'm glad to have had a place to share this with some other food-centered folks.

Y'know, I didn't give much thought to class far beyond what I wrote... John T addressed it in my conversation with him, so did Mildred Council (Mama Dip) and Ben Barker. All three of them saw class as kind of a common ground... poor white and black people choosing less expensive proteins / meats.

I was just so fascinated with race, because of the 2004 SFA conference (the conference topic was "Southern Food in Black and White"). It really got my wheels churning... seeing people discuss soul vs. Southern as part of their racial identity. People expressed very strong emotions about food and racial identity, wanting credit for what their race contributed. (And while I think some acknowledgements are due, Nathalie Dupree is right -- how can you really say black people came up with this or white people came up with that? Who really knows?)

I don't know that there is the same strong tie between class, food, and identity -- the tie is there, and there are a lot of foods that have roots in poverty that are now enjoyed by us food snobs. (I think of all the different takes on bread pudding, for example. And Barker excels at taking simple ingredients and making them white tablecloth.) But I haven't seen people arguing or fighting for their identity through food as a class. (Maybe there are people who do and I just haven't found them yet.)

I also had a chance to meet Leah Chase, and she said, "racial reconciliation will happen through food." Wow. Such a great lady, and that is a truth, I think. Finally -- the cover of "The Gift of Southern Cooking" (Scott Peacock, Edna Lewis) was kind of a focal / meditation point for me, too -- so two very different people and the only thing that really brought them together was a love for food (and eventually love for each other).

Thanks for your comment Chris!

Great piece! Thanks for all the insights on food and race (and on identity and history and...).

Shaun, I'm curious as to why you didn't make direct reference to class. You get kind of close here -- the mention of resources and of poverty -- but don't quite scratch that itch. I don't know enough about southern food culture to imply you should have, btw. It's truly a question borne of curiosity!

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Super article - thank you.

Ironically, another place that we in the US can learn a lot about race relations from is South Africa. While there is still a long way to go there too, the impression I got there was of a people looking to jointly make their country better.

Another thought is that the food of poverty often comes to define the cuisine of a place. Certainly much Italian food for example is of that origen.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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Another thought is that the food of poverty often comes to define the cuisine of a place. Certainly much Italian food for example is of that origen.

Related to this, a theme in the Hesses' 1977 book The Taste of America is that much of the history of cooking was housewives contriving something interesting from ingredients the "gentry" wouldn't touch.

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Just a beautiful, fascinating article, Shaun! Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I am a white woman who spent a lot of meals at black families tables as a child. This was during the sixties in the country in NC. Soul food was a phrase I heard during the school year at home in the Washington, DC suburbs, but not at all during the summers spent on my grandparents farm in NC. This little town seemed to be (an in some ways remains) stuck in the past. Most of the food that I was given at the black folks tables was not much different from the food at my grandmother's table. More 'cheap' pork cuts, maybe (I don't think that I got my love of fried fatback or hog jowls from my grandmother :wink: ). I never have thought of this food as white Southern or soul food, but as country food because it was so different from the 'city' food my mom served in VA.

A little off topic: Is there any other region of the country that people spend as much time talking about, making observations about, microscopically examining? I really don't think so and I find that interesting, beautiful and deeply sad (because of what I think are the reasons for the constant interest - the hunger for repairing the harm caused to the South by slavery).

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