What Soul Food Means To Me
Photo by  Ron Dauphin  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ron Dauphin on Unsplash

I've written, deleted, and rewritten this post about six times. I want to get it right. And while I'm not sure this is it, I've committed myself to getting it out, as imperfect as it may be. As I've said earlier there is something about the beginning of things that makes you want to commit to being your best self, and I, above all things, am committed to Brown Sugar and Bourbon. 

Food blogs are a dime a dozen. There is nothing inherently special about watching a blogger cook a meal or reading a recipe from a food writer. The magic, I think, is in the story telling. Food is edible culture, a way of literally consuming diversity. It can break down barriers between different races, languages, sexes and, religions. It is much easier to discuss hard topics over a good meal than not. It is in this spirit I launched Brown Sugar and Bourbon last October. Through this blog I want to have fun cooking and exploring food and food culture. But I also want to use this site to have the hard conversations.

I am particularly interested in the lasting effects of slavery/the slave trade in the United States of America and the food culture (Soul Food) that emerged as its legacy. 


'Soul Food' is a heritage passed down by enslaved Africans to their descendants. It was created out of necessity, making the best of a inhumane structure. The cuisine is intrinsically linked to the story of African-Americans, and thus, the foundation of the United States. So much about exploring Soul Food is about exploring my people and myself. It is hard to really know who you are when you don't know, can't know, where you came from. 

It is the food I cook, the food I was raised on, that binds me to my ancestors; people I will never meet. Slaves who stare back at me from books have always seemed surreal and untouchable to me. Cooking collard greens, pig's feet, or even chitterlings (rather: chitlins) acts as sorcery, allowing me and them to have a conversation between different times and space. 

The closet thing to a cohesive culture we have as black Americans is the food we eat. For so long we've been shamed for it. Soul Food is fattening, it's poor people food, or the leftovers/scraps slave owners didn't want to eat. But isn't there something beautiful about creating an entire cuisine based on ingenuity?

America is constantly on the quest for the next big culinary sensation. We are a melting pot that is constantly searching outside of ourselves for great food. Poke bowls, ramen, Italian, sushi etc., have all had their time in the sun. Soul Food, as uncomfortable as it is for many in this country to accept, is America's great original cuisine. It is the living edible embodiment of the American Dream. 

That's what Brown Sugar and Bourbon ultimately is, or at least what I hope it will ultimately become, an ongoing love letter to my ancestors and a place where I can examine history.