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While many aspects of African American culture have been embraced by the mainstream, Miller contends that soul food remains largely ignored, mostly owing to its unhealthy image. In an attempt to revamp its poor reputation, Miller offers up this comprehensive and entertaining history of soul food, tracing its evolution from its beginnings with slavery to the Great Migrations from the rural South. While different slaving systems led to subregional cuisines, such as Lowcountry, Creole, and Cajun, Miller focuses on the Deep South, or Black Belt, as the heart of soul food. Chapters are divided into the dishes most representative of the cuisine, including fried chicken, catfish, chitlins, cornbread, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, Kool-Aid, banana pudding, and sweet potato pie. Consulting historical cookbooks and firsthand accounts of the enslaved and visiting soul food restaurants across the country, Miller discusses the evolution of each dish and explains why it has attained a permanent place in soul food cuisine. VERDICT A lively and thorough account for fans of food literature and of African American history. Recipes included. Highly recommended.-Melissa Stoeger, Deerfield P.L., IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Miller moves way past common notions about soul food that it is unhealthy and its origins are from the throwaways of slave masters, chitlins (hog intestines) being the best example. It turns out the origin of chitlins can be traced to Britain. That's only one of several revelations Miller offers in this fascinating look at the cuisine known as soul food and its close cousin, southern cuisine. Drawing on memories from home (Denver by way of the South) and visits to some 150 restaurants in 35 cities as well as cookbooks and historical accounts, Miller explores the Native American, African, and European roots of soul food. Focusing on fried chicken, catfish, black-eyed peas, greens, and other elements of soul food, Miller explores their origins and significance in black culture, ending each chapter with recipes. From what he identifies as slave food to southern cooking to neo-soul, Miller examines the politics, culture, sociology, and economics of soul food. It evolved from something to be ashamed of as rural people moved north to the cities into an expression of race pride, more recently losing luster as tastes and health concerns changed. Photographs and recipes add to the allure of this well-researched look at the past and future of soul food.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist