Some people mistakenly equate “soul food” with the “Southern” foods of America. But that is not correct. Deep South Soul Food cooking is a major segment of the broader category of Southern cooking, yes. But not all Southern American cooking is “soul”. Bob Jeffries, author of the 1969 publication, Soul Food Cookbook, said it simply like this:
“While all soul food is southern food, not all southern food is ‘soul.’ Soul food cooking is an example of how really good southern Negro cooks cooked with what they had available to them.”
The amazing, simple and basic, humble and yet exquisite recipes that comprise Deep South Soul Food are the creative products of African Americans. To put it accurately and bluntly:
Deep South Soul Food has its roots embedded deeply in the American 18th and 19th century institution of slavery.
Enslaved Africans, living in squalid conditions provided them by their plantation owners, were fed with what the white people considered “scraps” and all the “undesirable” offcuts of meats. What vegetables they had, they had to grow for themselves, and grow them they did, in abundance. Black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, spinach, peppers and tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, corn, and okra … Deep South Soul Food, while having to rely on meager amounts and poor cuts of meats, was (and still is) rich in varieties of vegetables.