Soul Food

“There aint a thing I do,
a person I know, 
a dish I cook, 
couldn’t be made
a mite better. That’s 
no reason 
not to love it
for the best that it is
right now.” – Pamela Strobel

I’m working on being a mite better at understanding racism and I hope that you are too. I feel a bit like a sponge who is absorbing information as fast as I can, but I’m sitting in a puddle and there is more to absorb than my brain has time or energy to sop up in a day.  But I think it’s important to still sit, soggy, in that puddle because I truly want to continue to learn; about racism, about science, and about how to love people well around my table.

Plate of collard greens, black eyed peas, pork chops, and spoon bread

I’ve been digging deep into soul food.  I searched the internet and found some tidbits of helpful information, but I also found that many of the recipes were written by white bloggers like me…and I’m just going out on a limb here, but I think that really misses the rich and generational tradition of soul food.  A bit discouraged by the internet, I turned to finding a cookbook that could help me learn in a more authentic way.  I read Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook cover to cover like a novel.  She includes poetry all throughout the book and you get a glimpse of this girl who was orphaned at 13 and the ways in which the recipes that her mother and grandmother had taught her, saved her life.  She opened multiple restaurants in New York and never lost touch with the soul that made her who she was.  

Princess Pamela's Soul Food Cookbook

For most of the Meat’s Complete section I was nauseated.  I am an adventurous eater, but scrambled brains, head cheese, and chicken fried heart had me pause.  I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to call my butcher and ask for pork brains.  Now if these are favorite dishes in your home please, please comment and let me know that it is something I simply must try…but until I hear a resounding call to try more obscure meats, I settled on pork chops and cream gravy.  We put together a full meal of collard greens, black eyed peas, spoonbread and pork chops from this cookbook.  I haven’t had much soul food, so I can’t speak to whether or not I got things exactly right and her recipes are less than detailed, but it turned out well. Probably the best pork chop I’ve ever made. 

Collard Greens with a Chili Pepper

I’ve been reading books that are currently trending like, “How To Be an Antiracist”, “Waking Up White”, and “The Color of Compromise”, but this little cookbook wiggled into my heart.  She was a girl who loved food, just like me. I can’t wait to keep making her recipes and thinking about what it would have been like to have had the honor to dine with Princess Pamela Strobel. 

“I’m in the restaurant
Business ‘cause I know
Cookin’, but there’s
More to it.
I love people. I really
Do love people. 
There’s a selfishness
In most and a bit of hate and
A little cheatin’
But if
Yuh keep on
Smilin’ and
Talkin’, the
Humanness
Do come through
And the lovin’
Kindness they
Got for somebody
Someplace.”

Let’s keep having hard conversations with our friends and family and neighbors and continue to find the humanness in everyone.  Sift through the selfishness and hate and find a place for people of all colors at your table.

Hands holding a plate of Soul Food

I’ve heard loud and clear that things have to change.  Systemic racism is real, and if you are still wrestling with believing this, do some digging.  As humans we need to do things differently, because we want to achieve something we’ve never achieved.  We cannot keep moving through our daily lives the same as always and just hope that people in places of power and leadership will move our country in an equal direction.  We all have to individually learn and unlearn things that have been purposefully and unintentionally ingrained in us.  We have to make choices that are going to change the narrative in our minds and in our communities. It’s time for us to change.  Think of ways to change your behavior to change the way you see things, because changing the way you see things is the best way to start actually changing our hearts.   

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you’re back, Allie! I’ve missed your blogs because they always make me think. This one is no exception! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Debbie! It feels good to be back. It was a needed hiatus over the summer but it feels great to be back in action and having fun in the kitchen again!

  2. Allie, your posts make me continue to think. Most importantly, your posts make me smile. Peace.

    1. Thanks Mr. L. We sure do miss you in Michigan!

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