“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
~ Chimamanda Adichie
In a few days I’ll happily swap seasons and leave the rain-soaked streets of winter in Sydney, for North America’s summer heatwave. I’m on a journey to the home of Soul Food – to eat, meet, and tweet about Soul Food.
I have a head full of hopes and distractions, and a camera and microphone I’ve just started to learn how to use. Also packed is my first aid kit – a coffee plunger and emergency coffee!
From Oakland (California), to Raleigh (North Carolina), I want to interview people who cook and eat soul food – home cooks, food writers, friends, neighbours, and all their extended families!
As I travel around the USA I will be asking people to open their heart. By sharing their stories with me, either face-to-face or online, each person opens a door to their world of memory, community and personal history.
I hope to share meals as well as stories. Chitterlings, Bean Pie, Velvet Cake, Smothered Chicken – pig’s ear perhaps – aren’t available on menus in Australia. My journey will be measured in mouthfuls. I look forward to eating soul food at Sylvia’s, Pearl’s Place, and Aunty Ruth’s, but I’m saddened to hear how many soul food restaurants have closed, including the iconic Edna’s, and the home of the Bean Pie, Salaam.
So many names and places on my journey echo history: Malcolm X Boulevard, Frederick Douglas Avenue, John Baptiste Point DuSable, Ferdinand L. Barnett, Charlotte Hawkins, Emory Douglas, The Apollo, Duke University, Greensboro, New Bern, The Schomburg, Bronzeville, and the Lenox Lounge, to name just a few.
It is essential for my book to include the history of Soul Food from its roots in Africa and fateful journey to the Americas – and ultimately into the heart and soul of American culture.
Like jazz and the blues, I believe Soul Food was born from the heart and soul of ingenuity and creativity – as well as survival.
Soul food is a potent symbol of African America’s history of survival and ascendancy, and an integral part of America’s past and present. I believe the history of soul food reminds us, and the sharing of soul food binds us.
My Soul Food journey begins in August.
Follow me @SoulFoodStories or visit http://www.soulfoodstories.com