What Defines Authentic Soul Food?

What Defines Authentic Soul Food?

The Name
This term "soul food" wasn't used until the 60s. The rise of some Black Nationalist movements in the 60s was catalyst as many African-Americans sought to reclaim their American cultural legacy. Terms like "soul brother", "soul sister", and "soul music" were used so naturally the term "soul food" became used to describe recipes from African-American cooking for generations.
The term may have been first used in 1962 by the civil rights activist and poet Amiri Baraka. Sylvia Woods opened her famous Harlem restaurant Sylvia's that same year and today she is known as the Queen of soul food. Soul food restaurants and cookbooks were popular through the 70s.

The Food
Soul food is actually basic down-home cooking with its roots in the rural South. Soul food staples include beans, greens, cornmeal that was used to make Hush Puppies and Johnnycakes or coating for fried fish and pork. Pork has many uses in soul food. All the parts of the pig are used such as pig's feet, ham hawks, pig ears, hog jowl and chitlins. Pork fat is commonly used for frying and used as an ingredient and slowly cooked greens. Sweet, cold drinks are always a favorite.

Soul or Southern?
To most Americans this is just as ascription of Southern food.
To make a distinction between soul and southern has been summed up in Bob Jeffries" Soul Food Cookbook. While soul food is southern food not all southern food is soul food. Soul food is the example of how good Southern African-American cooks cooked with what they had available to them.
Soul food actually has its roots in slavery and African-Americans cook African-Americans continued to use cheaper ingredients, or whatever food was available to them. For the next hundred years after the abolition of slavery, African-Americans continued with this cooking and it was not defined by a racial divide. There is really no difference between the food eaten by poor black Southerners or poor white Southerners. Those differences are very subtle. More capsicum pepper and a heavier hand with salt and pepper and a greater use of offal meet are in the comparative characteristics of soul food versus country cooking.