Celebrating soul food during Black History Month

(NewsNation) — A taste of the American south, soul food tells the story of Black communities through a variety of flavors and culture, according to expert Adrian Miller.

“Soul food is glorious with a touch of humility to the journey of the people who have gone through a lot. It’s a story of resiliency, ingenuity and ultimately triumph,” says Miller, a soul food and culinary historian.

The term “soul food” was first used in print in 1964 during the rise of Black Pride, but its history dates back to the 1860s, when slaves relied on the scraps of the crude diet provided to them. What people call soul food today features recipes passed down through generations.

Chicago restaurant owner Tonya Johnson says soul food staples include string beans with potatoes, cornbread dressing and candied yams.

“We were raised eating soul food. We were raised around the kitchen table at my grandma’s house on the weekends,” Johnson told NewsNation. “And the flavors and nostalgia come alive with that first bite.”

While the cuisine is known for its use of dairy, sugars and salts, modern-day cooks have adjusted recipes to be healthier. New recipes work to combat heart disease and diabetes in the Black community, while maintaining the comforting flavors.

“Whenever the soul food comes out, they bring a taste of down south. You get a taste and feel where your ancestors and you actually come from,” said Jaquan Dorsey, a diner at Johnson’s restaurant, Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.

Sharon McKennie, another Chicago restaurant owner, says soul food is all about family, “It’s from our heritage. It’s family before us, our grandparents and great grandparents that have left recipes that we want to share and keep it going for years to come.”

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