Foods Black People Eat That You Should Too
Let’s review food that black people eat that you should too. These are not that “bougie” black people foods fronting as “soul food” either.
I. Black Food is About Fellowship
II. If You Can’t Cook – Stay out of the Kitchen
III. The Movie Soul Food Was No Such Thing
IV. Cornbread Dressing is Delightful
V. Fried Green Tomatoes in Fish Grease
VI. Chitterlings (Chittlins) are an Exquisite Delicacy
VII. Ever Heard of Souce?
VIII. What Kind of Greens are Best?
Black Food is About Fellowship
It is no surprise that Black churches have been cultural hubs since the gatherings of southern slaves to worship.
A part of worship is fellowship, and there are few things more fellowship worthy than breaking bread together. Fried chicken is what comes to mind for those ignorant of Black culture.
As a black Pastor, who grew up in the black church, and raised by a sharecropper, black chicken isn’t even the best I have had!
No beloved - that honor goes to Colonel Sanders who started Kentucky Fried Chicken. Don’t get me wrong, my momma could “burn” and every time she stepped in front of a stove, “put her foot in it.” (Let Those Who Have an Ear Hear)
Although a part of the menu in church, chicken and watermelon are stereotypes only. As an African American, there is no food I more loathe than watermelon. Yuk!
Ever since my mother, a Mississippi Sharecropper, gave it to me, I hated it and would not eat it. This is the one dish she never forced me to eat with: “eat this or don’t eat nothing you little hard head boy.”
However, from collard greens to macaroni and cheese, this article contains some of my favorites.
Black churches are filled with inspirational preaching, gospel music, and black food.
If You Can’t Cook – Stay out of the Kitchen
If you can’t cook, well, it is best to stay out of a black church kitchen! My mother was the president of our church kitchen. That should tell black folk about her skills.
Nevertheless, there were women she would not allow to either bring dishes or cook. They could clean tables, wash dishes, or serve but cooking, no way!
More traditional black church kitchens are dangerous places for those with no self-awareness. Back then, black women would let you know what they thought about your skills.
Unfortunately, this is changing with the younger generation. However, real soul food is serious business in the home, community, and church.
The art of preparing traditional soul food is dying, however. There are several factors driving this trend. First, is the availability of easy credit, higher-paying jobs, etc.
Mothers, especially young adults, are more likely to take their kids to McDonald's or Burger King than cook a meal. Further, the microwave has become a necessity in the black home.
Another factor is the rise of what can only be titled as “bougie black women.”
I cannot confess to knowing such a woman when I was growing up in the 1980s.
However, access to education, wealth, and other factors have created a new generation of black women who view things differently than their mothers and grand-mothers.
I am not saying this is wrong, just sad.
This class of black family is more likely to have a personal chef, or cater in, than allow “country Negroes” to cook for them.
What a dangerous combination - can’t cook and won’t let others cook "real food" for them.
The Movie Soul Food was no Such Thing
The image most white folks may have of soul food is from the movie going by the same name. Soul food used to be the food of the poor. It originated in the African American community and features tasty but inexpensive dishes.
Some are (but not limited to) black-eyed peas, pork, chicken, collard greens, chitterlings, pig feet, etc.
Soul food is not just for “holidays” or church either.
This image is “bougie” black folk soul food. As the great John Travolta mockingly said in the 1978 movie Grease: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Some of the most popular foods I grew up eating was chitterlings, mustard greens, and Cha-Cha. Other yummy dishes were fried green tomato (in old fish grease), pan fried spaghetti, plantation potato salad, and too many others to list.
The image of soul food put out by black Hollywood, like the above image, is not real. Like many of our cultural nuances, the reality of who we really are is not palatable to studio executives.
That is, unless you are willing to debase yourself in front of the entire planet like Cardi B and Meg the Stallion did on a recent award(s) show.
There was a movie years ago called Soul Food which presented food and attached the name "soul" to it. This was nothing more than the food of bougie black people.
Poor folk could hardly have had such an elegant table set!
Macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, biscuits, green bean casserole? Come on man! If that food was the "real" deal, it would’ve looked much different.
Hollywood's presentation of soul food was not unlike the Huxtable family from the Cosby Show in 1980s. Although the Huxtable family was a true depiction of a few black families in America, reality for the masses was much different.
That black family is the most "sanitized" version of blacks ever to grace the American screen.
Soul food simply means: "created with love and culturally representative of those who prepared it." The movie was great but the food was simply not representative of the black masses back then.
Corn Bread Dressing is Delightful
Black people love to eat Corn Bread dressing. Well, those of us who are “keeping it real” anyway. We haven’t always had access to “vegan” diets and gourmet coffee.
Vegans, vegetarians, and gourmet coffee drinkers tell us: “we (black folk) need to eat better to protect our health.”
There is NO DATA to support “healthy eating” (according to white folks' definition anyway) has reduced genetic diseases that afflict our community.
Please provide me with multi-generational studies where high-blood pressure, diabetes, or even sickle-cell has been reduced because of diet in black folk.
Nevertheless, I just had Corn Bread dressing yesterday! Cornbread dressing is kind of a tricky thing because each time I eat it, it is either the best I ever tasted, or the worse.
I must confess to having a bad memory of dressing stemming back forty (40) years. Somehow, the dressing, although good to the taste, gave many food born illness at a church dinner.
I was one of those who had gotten sick because of this.
You have to be careful whose dressing you eat! It has the most bacteria laden meat as a core ingredient (chicken). If not prepared and stored correctly, one can end up in the hospital.
I have seen dressing made with several foundations. The one most of us are familiar with is cornbread. However, there was a woman, at our church, who made it with crackers.
In these more bougie times, some make it with flavored croutons. Either way, I can’t imagine a church meal being complete without a pan of dressing.
While attending high school, I had the opportunity to eat at a white friend’s house. This was a first for me.
His family served turkey and a dish called “stuffing.” The turkey was descent, but that “stuffing” was dry and horrible! Dressing, sometimes called turkey dressing as well, is a moister, more delicious form of stuffing.
Either way, if made correctly, those used to stuffing will never go back after tasting dressing.
Fried Green Tomatoes in Fish Grease
Fried green tomatoes cooked in old fish grease was a staple when I was a child. Today, green tomatoes are fried in fresh grease and battered separately.
However, those fresh off the Mississippi plantation did a little bit different.
For instance, I never saw my mother directly batter or cornmeal green tomatoes. She saved old fish grease and used it for the tomatoes. Of course, there was cornmeal still in the grease and this lightly coated the tomatoes.
As an adult, I remember the first time I saw directly batter fried green tomatoes. It was a surprise because I’d never seen them prepared in such a way. This makes an amazing side dish to either fish, chicken, or even ham.
Fried green tomatoes are not exclusively African American either. What made them exclusively a black food was the way my mother prepared them.
Her way of cooking, as well as that of others back in the day, was more an issue of poverty than it being preferable.
Nevertheless, it worked for us and I can still taste those fried green tomatoes prepared old fish grease!
Chitterlings are an Exquisite Delicacy
OK, let me introduce you to probably the hardest core black soul food item that ever was: chitterlings. Those who grew up in an environment of broken language know them simply as “chittlins.”
This dish is about more than simply so-called soul food. It is something our slave ancestors were forced to eat because a white slave master left them nothing else.
It is interesting that many black activists holler about remembering "where we came from" yet ridicule those who still enjoy this most "soul" of all foods. Let’s be clear - you better not eat just anybody’s chittlins, however!
They have to be cleaned and cooked right!
If they aren't so handled, one can end up in the emergency room. Dirty chitterlings, well, I will refrain from revealing why they come so dirty before preparation.
Although the cleaning and cooking process is difficult, properly prepared, this dish is delightful.
My elders believed we ate this dish because we could not afford anything else. When I got older however, I realize that once cooked, chitterlings were more expensive than steak!
In the 1980s a ten (10) pound bucket could cost thirteen $13 dollars or more. A secret about chitterlings is that is not a per pound price. A ten (10) pounds bucket of chitterlings cooks down to a mere three (3) pounds.
This meant what may appear as $1.10 per pound, had a post cooking price of $3 dollars per.
Ever Heard of the Souse?
Souse is a dish which many black people probably haven’t heard. I will spare you the details of what it’s made of but will share how delicious it is.
Like all of her cooking, my mother made this from scratch as well. It can be purchased in certain stores catering to the black "trade" but momma made this from scratch.
There is a big difference between real homemade souse and the commercially available brand.
First, souse is a type of pork. While most kids I went to school with were eating chicken salad and tuna salad, we ate souse. The commercial brand(s) are thin like lunchmeat while homemade souse is as thick as a piece of pie.
My mother made this with fresh ground meat, leveled it in a pan, and chilled it before serving. I am more than sure this new generation of black folk would cringe looking at it.
To us however, it was as delightful as a chocolate chip cookie.
What Kind of Greens are Best?
Since I slammed the movie Soul Food previously for their utterly horrid representations, I need to commend them as well.
Greens were the one dish, in this film, which I thought hard core, stomp down soul food! The rest of that "bougie" black food, not so much. I mean, seriously, a table full of soul food without chittlins or cha-cha?
I am not suggesting that "pig ears" and "pig feet" be featured, but no cha-cha for the greens? OUTRAGEOUS!
With respect to real black food, there is an ongoing debate on which type of “greens” are best. Some, like me, swear collard green are.
Others, whose palate trends toward the more exotic, argue that “mustard” greens are the only kind worthy of praise. There is a much smaller, but more fanatical group of “true believers” in “turnip” greens.
I am not a fan of "mustards" or "turnips" but will eat them. Both are a bit “sour” for my taste. There is also “cabbage” which I thought were another kind of “greens.” We called them “cabbage greens” while others called them “cabbage.”
Here is where the experienced black food expert church is truly identified. There are three (3) things a hard-core soul food church dinner expert brings when eating greens: vinegar, cornbread, and “cha-cha!"
For outsiders and bougie, pinch-nosed Black folk – cha-cha is a relish for greens.
Oh, you though cornbread (non-Jiffy mix), pork, and onions were the only thing served with a side of greens?
You poor, poor thing. No worries, however. Us descendants of plantation sharecroppers still love you!
These are just a few of the many delicious, classic dished that black people eat and you should to.
When you attend a more traditional Black church, for instance, you can expect to experience the full flavor the food(s) mentioned here.
You really should attend a REAL soul food dinner before the art of this long practiced tradition is lost.
Hurry - you don’t have long.
Header Images Courtesy of WikiCommon
Soul Food Dish Image Courtesy of Wikicommons
Chitterlings Image Courtesy of Wikicommons