Glen Allen, Virginia
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Common Soul Food Terms
Soul food is cuisine that is associated with African American culture and includes a variety of dishes authentic to the southern part of the country. Each recipe has a series of ingredients, like rice and okra, that are authentic variations of African cuisine. Many of these southern recipes are available in cookbooks. Restaurants that specialize in this cuisine may offer their menu on a website, so prospective customers can see what dishes are available. For promotional and advertising purposes, restaurants that serve soul food may enter festivals to showcase their meals to enthusiasts. In addition to sampling soul food, festivals will have a series of events, including contests and food eating competitions, for those who attend. However, sometimes nothing beats an old fashioned backyard barbeque.
Fried Chicken - A dish of chicken which has been battered, floured and fried. The batter provides the chicken with a crisp coating and crust when fried.
Okra - Edible green seed pods that, when cooked, result in a slimy texture. The slime or goo is a useable, soluble fiber.
Grits - Grits are a breakfast soul food item with a recipe that consists of ground corn and is seasoned with sugar. Variations of grits may feature sausage, butter, cheese or ham.
Skillet Cornbread - Cornbread is a quick bread that is made from corn meal, oil and eggs. This food is often served as a side dish. Skillet cornbread is cooked in a stove top skillet, as opposed to a baking or bread dish.
Collard Greens - Collard greens are a vegetable that is a member of the cabbage family and taste similar to kale.
Soul food is a unique, delicious style of Southern cooking. There are a number of great dishes that can be found in Southern restaurants and throughout the United States.
If you amble into a Cajun or soul food restaurant down South and pick up a menu, you are likely to see some real homestyle cuisine. You have common foods like fried chicken, biscuits with gravy, BBQ meats, and corn bread. But the cook might surprise you with some things you've never seen or tasted before.
Hush puppies are balls of cornmeal that have been deep-fried and served. There are also chitterlings, which are the intestines of pigs, typically boiled for several hours and then deep fried. For dessert, you can't do better than peach cobbler.
Now, it's worth noting that many recipes for Southern foods call for lard, deep-fried corn or bread, and lots of starch, which are not the healthiest foods for the body, though are soothing to the mind. Because of this, soul food is also referred to as comfort food. However, there are some healthy options, like collard greens, which are leafy vegetables. They are sometimes mixed with other vegetables or cooked with smoked meats, diced onions, and other seasonings. Southern restaurants also prepare rice, catfish, and barbecue items like ribs.
The next time you wander into a Southern cafe, try to be a little adventurous and try a new recipe. You'll be enjoying a long-standing tradition of incredible comfort food that pleases not only your taste buds, but your soul as well.