- Faith & Family
This Thursday is Thanksgiving and thousands of turkey dinners will be served at charity organizations, churches and community centers all across America. Families and friends will gather to celebrate the holiday. The traditional Thanksgiving meal of roast turkey and dressing will be complemented with traditional dishes from all over the world.
Thanksgiving dinner in Black American homes will include lots of soul food cuisine. Smoked ham hocks, greens, corn bread and beans will complement the traditional turkey and dressing holiday meal. Soul food is a staple at most celebration in the Black culture.
But many don’t realize that soul food dishes were actually created out of necessity. It was during the slave era that some of our most popular dishes were produced from unwanted leftover meat scraps. Blacks that were brought to America during the slave trade no longer had access to their native foods or the means to prepare them. And of course they were not allowed to share the food of their owners. What did they do? They improvised and created meals from the discarded meat scraps and other undesirable food items. Those greens, meat scraps, beans and peas would become what we call today “soul food” and are among Blacks’ most desired dishes. Regardless of the adverse conditions in which some of these dishes originated they are enjoyed by cultures all over the world. Today, many Black Americans enjoy preparing and eating their traditional meals although they no longer have to eat the meat once considered as scraps.
Most cultures have foods that are unique to their culture. Chitterlings are as traditional to Blacks as bagels are to the Jewish people. During the slave era Blacks lost much more than their homeland; they were forced to leave their rich African culture behind. The clothes they wore and the foods they ate took on a new look and taste once they arrived in America.
As the axiom goes, “one man’s leftover is another man’s feast.” This saying is symbolic of the evolution of soul food in America. As we gather this holiday, remember to give thanks for our ancestors who were able to create a tradition for us from the scraps that were fed to them. And as always remember to count your blessings as you give thanks to God for all the blessings and the opportunities to celebrate another Thanksgiving. Wishing everyone a happy and blessed Thanksgiving Day.
By Queen Brown