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Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time Hardcover – August 15, 2013
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*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. --Vanessa Bush
I recommend this book to 'foodies' and to those interested in American history, African American history and preserving good down home soul food cooking.--Tennessee Libraries
A wonderful combination of sociological examination of African-American culture and identity, travelogue and cookbook. . . . It's exactly this combination of earnest curiosity and an unwillingness to take his topic too seriously that makes Soul Food such a great read. . . . I highly recommend this book!--Nashville Scene
Insightful, thoughtful and meticulously researched, Soul Food sets a place for soul food in the American culinary canon. There's no way you won't be craving something sweet and fried and soulful for dinner.--Virginian-Pilot
Miller's book is a mouth-watering tome that not only titillates the palate, but feeds the brain with science, geography and history.--Denver Westword
Crafts a dynamic and engaging biography of an American cuisine.--Southern Historian
Miller knows all about soul food's allure, both as a way of eating and as cultural totem. . . . [His] book is a labor of love.--Denver Post
Deliciously entertaining and rich in its history.--Journal of American Culture
Most people don't know soul food the way Miller does. . . . Miller's book studies soul food mainly in terms of its quintessential ingredients or dishes. . . [and] along the way, he dishes up a few surprises.--Winston-Salem Journal
This highly-informative opus . . . is filled with fascinating factoids.--Kam Williams
2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award, Reference and Scholarship
Miller took up the challenge of tracing soul food's history and launching its spirited defense after realizing the story had never really been told in a comprehensive way.--Villager Newspaper
Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish--such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens and 'red drinks'--Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African-American culture and identity.--The Philadelphia Tribune
Just the book to move readers from one end of the line to the other without getting bogged down. . . . Soul Food is ingenious . . . [and] speaks to the enduring mythological power of its staple dishes.--Michael Twitty, American Prospect
An intelligent review that explores the muddy territory 'where southern food ends and soul food begins.' The journey is as informative as it is entertaining.--Austin Chronicle
[A] fascinating look at the cuisine known as soul food and its close cousin, southern cuisine. . . . Photographs and recipes add to the allure of this well-researched look at the past and future of soul food.--Booklist, starred review
An engaging, tradition-rich look at an often overlooked American cuisine--certainly to be of interest to foodies from all walks of life.--Kirkus, starred review
As Miller tells the whole story of soul food from its beginnings to current day and throughout, he is so skillful at finding cultural and historical context, you may find yourself learning about your own food culture.--Culinary Historians of Washington
Both thought-provoking and celebratory.--Edible Piedmont
Detailed and sprightly. . . . [Miller] adds in-depth chapters that explore more than a dozen soulful dishes--including catfish, black-eyed peas, mac and cheese, cornbread, and candied yams.--Stanford Magazine
[A] comprehensive and entertaining history of soul food. . . . A lively and thorough account for fans of food literature and of African American history. Recipes included. Highly recommended.--Library Journal
[Miller] doesn't do anything halfway.--5280
Examines the roots of a distinctly American tradition.--StarNewsOnline.com
Miller moves way past common notions about soul food to offer a fascinating look at the cuisine and its close cousin, southern cooking.--Booklist Top 10 Food Books of 2013
[A] lively, innovative, and carefully researched study of traditional African American food habits.--North Carolina Historical Review
Miller makes many surprising points and teaches us a great deal about our Southern foodways' relationship to soul food. . . . Along the way, we get some fascinating insights, and a few great recipes and illustrations.--Okra Magazine
An undeniably entertaining book.--Journal of Southern History
Top customer reviews
Yes, there are recipes at the conclusion of each chapter! This is an excellent history book with flavor. I recommend this for book clubs for adults and teens, as the meetings could include sharing of recipes from the book.
In "Soul Food" culinary historian Adrian Miller explores the origins the foods that make up the quintessential soul food plate: greens, mac and cheese, fried chicken, beans, yams, corn bread and few more. It's a fascinating history of the Soul gastronomy. Back to mac and cheese -- originally a European dish made with costly and exotic ingredients introduced to Americans by Thomas Jefferson which became a luxury food of the wealthy white plantation table, prepared by enslaved people. As time went on, the ingredients for the dish became readily available commodities that were often included in the "poor boxes" distributed during the holiday season.
This year, I'm going to make some mac and cheese, using one of the recipes in "Soul Food" for my multicultural family's Thanksgiving feast, in honor of all the history that Adrian Miller chronicles, in honor of a shared culinary heritage, and in honor of the enduring struggle for social justice that has been played out in our changing foodways.
This book is well written; you will not regret purchasing.