Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Soul Food

Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a TimeSoul 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. 


  1. I really enjoy reading about food history and this sounds fascinating. It might be an unusual pick for our Diversity Book Club, too. Hmmm.

    Joy's Book Blog

  2. I have no experience with soul food - I need to look into it. Thanks

  3. I love reading about food history and I hadn't heard of this one before. I'll have to see if my library has it.

  4. I have always been interested in regional or culturally-influenced foods. Sometimes we fall into eating ruts and it's fascinating to branch out a bit.

  5. This is interesting. I think this would be fun and educational to read. I grew up in the South and remember my mother's macaroni and cheese (homemade) very well, and as a child we had Kool-Aid a lot. Yet my husband loves macaroni and cheese more than I do, and his mother made it (with Velveeta) when he was a child. Yet he is from Ohio.

  6. I enjoyed your review, this sounds like such an interesting book.

  7. I always find books about food history absolutely fascinating - this sounds like one to look out for.

  8. I work in an urban community and when I first went there my students couldn't believe that I made macaroni cheese - they thought of it as "black" food. I have lived many different states and countries and I never have really categorized food that way but it interesting to read about.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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