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The history of Soul Food and how it shaped southern cuisine

Soul Food a staple in African American culture shaped southern cuisine today.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gumbo, fried catfish, oxtails, and greens are just a few of the things that bring people to Louisiana Heaven for a taste of soul.

“When I first hit these shrimp they got a bit of lime I did not expect that,” said Latisha Burns, a customer. 

Licking the creole seasoning off her fingertips Burns says soul food reminds her of Sunday dinner as a kid. Big meals, big laughs, and big flavor.  

“My parents are from Louisiana and Mississippi we grew up eating greens oxtails and ribs fried chicken which is all considered soul food but this right here is home food,” said Burns. 

To the Black community, soul food is more than just a meal it is a way to connect, pass down stories, and honor the past.

“The recipe are hundreds of years old from my grandma my mom, especially the boudin they didn’t have the techniques they have now we use to have... it’s hard work it pays off it’s delicious,” said Lashunda Cormie, Louisiana Heaven owner. 

But also create generational wealth which is why Cormie says she open up her restaurant.  

“We are building employment for our kids we are teaching them the culinary part of the skills we aren’t just athletes or rappers we have other occupations that can teach our kids to make money,” said Cormie.

The soul food that we think about today has deep roots. 

African American Studies Professor Kimberly Nettles Barcelon author of the article "Saving Soul Food" says that southern cuisine dates back to when Africans were brought to America and forced into slavery

“If we think about the ways black peoples have been eating in the context of the US we can go all the way back to periods of enslavement and the way in which black people who were working the land for the white plantation owners were also cooking food for the white plantation owners then themselves they really were foundational in creating a southern cuisine the food of the American south,” Barcelon said.

Influences of Africa, Europe, and native people became the foodways of Black people.

“When we think about soul food it doesn’t become a thing until you see Black folks migrating out of the south and going to the north going to the west going to the Midwest and taking their food cultures with them because they wanted to find home and comfort in these places that weren’t where they had come from,” Barcelon said.

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