What soul food means to me
A teen writes an essay about what soul food means to her.
Sweet potato pie
Karina’s uncle’s fried chicken
Spinach and potatoes
What do you think of when you hear the words soul food? Most people think of corn bread, fried chicken, candied yams, macaroni and cheese, ham, collard greens, black eyed peas, sweet potato pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, pound cake and chitlings.
Some food has meaning. For example, chitlings. They are hog intestines. When the hogs were cleaned out, the slave owners gave the chitlings to the slaves. The slaves cleaned, cooked and ate them.
But soul food is about more than eating. It’s a time to forget about your worries and think of the good things in life. I think of it as a time to see the family and talk about the good times of the past.
It’s about tradition. When I was a little girl, I would listen to my grandfather tell stories while my grandmother, mother and aunts cooked. When I got older, I began to help with the cooking. Then my nieces started listening to the stories that I once listened to. Next my nieces will start helping with the cooking just as I did before, and my mom and aunts did before me.
Soul food is also about prayer. Before we eat all of the delicious food my grandfather or one of my uncles says a prayer. Not the usual little five-word prayer you say at dinner every night, a big, long five-minute prayer. When the word "Amen" is said, it’s time to dig in.
Remember soul food is and always will be about family tradition, prayer and of course the food.
Myshanea Dawson of Bethune Middle School was one of three winners of the Lawry’s Foods "Menu For Success" Writing Contest. The contest was sponsored by Lawry’s Foods in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department in celebration of Black History Month.