Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time

Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time

by Adrian Miller


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2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award, Reference and Scholarship
Honor Book for Nonfiction, Black Caucus of the American Library Association

In this insightful and eclectic history, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish—such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and "red drinks—Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity.
Miller argues that the story is more complex and surprising than commonly thought. Four centuries in the making, and fusing European, Native American, and West African cuisines, soul food—in all its fried, pork-infused, and sugary glory—is but one aspect of African American culinary heritage. Miller discusses how soul food has become incorporated into American culture and explores its connections to identity politics, bad health raps, and healthier alternatives. This refreshing look at one of America's most celebrated, mythologized, and maligned cuisines is enriched by spirited sidebars, photographs, and twenty-two recipes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469632421
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 02/01/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 740,522
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Adrian Miller is a writer, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, CO. He served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a senior policy analyst for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr., and a Southern Foodways Alliance board member.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

1 What Is Soul Food? 1

2 West Africa: The Culinary Source 11

3 From Southern to Soul 29

4 Fried Chicken and the Integration of Church and Plate 49

5 Catfish and Other Double Swimmers 70

6 Chitlins: A Love Story 91

7 Black-Eyed Peas: What's Luck Got To Do With It? 111

8 How Did Macaroni and Cheese Get So Black? 129

9 Sometimes I Feel Like Motherless Greens 146

10 Candied Yams: West African in Name, but Not in Taste 166

11 Cornbread: Drop It Like It's Hot Bread! 186

12 Hot Sauce: The Best Medicine Ever? 208

13 What's Sweet, Red, and Drunk from a Jelly Jar? Hint: Liquid Soul! 222

14 Give Me Some Sugar: The Glory of Soul Food Desserts 240

15 Whither Soul Food? 255

Notes 267

Bibliography 285

Index 311

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A thrilling celebration and thoughtful commentary. Miller's informative and delightful book offers us a ticket to explore both the history of soul food and its relationship to the greater African American experience.—Ronni Lundy, author of Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken: The Heart and Soul of Southern Country Kitchens

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