Explore the Fascinating History of Soul Food
By Alvin Ward
Soul food. You've undoubtedly heard the phrase, but what exactly does it mean? Oddly, it didn't originate as a culinary term. The expression—or at least a variation of it (soul's food)—was coined by William Shakespeare in his play The Two Gentlemen of Verona, which is believed to have been written in the late 1500s. The phrase was also used in the Christian church as a term for spiritual nourishment. It wasn’t until the 1960s, around the time of the Black Power Movement, that soul food became tied to food.
In this episode of "Food History," we’ll look at the history of soul food in America and learn about the cuisine's pioneers, like Pamela Strobel, a.k.a. Princess Pamela. We'll also speak with experts Dr. Jessica B. Harris, who has spent years studying and writing about food and culture, along with former Top Chef cheftestant Chris Scott to gain a better understanding of this cuisine’s long history in the United States—and how it differs from Southern food.
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