Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time by Adrian Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a scholarly, yet accessible, look at the evolution of specific foods that make up what the author defines as "the soul food plate." He makes it clear though that other dishes could have been chosen as well (a second helpings sequel perhaps?)
A lot of research clearly went into this book (there is a huge bibliography) and numerous viewpoints are presented on various questions. What makes the book really enjoyable though is the strong voice of the author. He is opinionated and clearly LOVES the food he is talking about. This is a fascinating look at a plate-full of American food culture.
As I read this book I was surprised by some of the things that were identified as "black." Macaroni and cheese (homemade, not that box stuff) is a part of the food culture I grew up with, as is KoolAid. This led me to think about the lens of history writing (not just here, but in general). Who you are, and where you come from, can really change the way you view the world. This adds richness to historical writing, but it also means that as a reader you need to understand the point of view the author is taking and what other perspectives are being omitted from a given narrative. I was conscious of this issue in reading Civil War history, but hadn't considered the implication for food history before.
This book counts toward the Foodies Read Challenge and is part of Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.