Explore the Fascinating History of Soul Food

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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Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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Explore the History of Pasta Shapes

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Every product you see in the pasta aisle has its own history. Some pasta shapes, like lasagne, can be traced back centuries, while others, like cavatappi, were invented in the modern era. There were even shapes that weathered controversy before they were finally accepted into the mainstream; stroncatura fits this description. Because it was originally made from the scraps swept up from factory floors, it used to be illegal.

Those are just a handful of the pasta shapes Mental Floss's Justin Dodd explores in the latest episode of Food History. Check out the full video below to learn more about the odd etymologies, ancient recipes, and innovative designs that led to your favorite Italian noodles.

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