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Where the Soul is From: The Origins of Soul Food



The term ‘soul food’ was coined by Malcolm X in Alex Haley’s autobiography in 1963. The term has also become synonymous with the African American diaspora. The roots of southern soul food cuisine run deep into the time of the antebellum south and the Jim Crow periods. Okra, tomatoes, eggplant, yams, black-eyed peas, watermelon, and several kinds of rice originated in Africa. As more Africans brought these vegetables to North America, they found their place in America.

The Great Migration of African Americans from the American South to the Northern states was one of history’s largest cultural and socioeconomic movements. Along with this movement came the food. Food has always been a way for all cultures to connect. There is something to be said for that old expression, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Celebrating Black history month is a great way to remember the comfort foods passed down through generations. Here is one of those old southern staples.

Hot Water Cornbread:
Rather than baking in a pan, hot water cornbread is shaped into patties and fried in a cast iron skillet— also known as corn pone or hoecakes. The recipe contains three simple ingredients: cornmeal, water, and salt, often served with sorghum molasses.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, divide it into four portions.
Shape each portion into small round patties about ¾ inch thick. Heat the vegetable oil in the skillet over medium heat.
Place the corn cakes in the hot oil and fry until brown.

This recipe was a staple in many southern households when eggs and baking powder were often unavailable. The African American culture is steeped, full of soulful cuisine and stories about the past.
This article was written by Roe Braddy, a local author who writes historical stories about those who were a part of the Great Migration. More of her writing can be found on

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