Cafeteria Menus

So this happens every year.  Somebody puts soul food on a menu on MLK day. And the usual suspects (race pimps) get Officially Offended.

I’m not on the same page as the Official Offendees.  But here’s what I don’t get.  Why doesn’t black America embrace soul food as it’s ethnic food?

Black Americans embrace the idea of being an ethnicity.  What other ethnicity doesn’t have an ethnic food style?  We have Moroccan food.  We have Caribbean food.  We have Mexican food.  Why can’t we have black food?  More importantly, why do black people seem to not want a black food?

I know that the old fried chicken and watermelon jokes are hurtful and were intended to shame all the way back to the minstrel show days.  But why is it that a group where the cry to take the n-word back is common (and not universal, I know, yadda yadda) runs from the idea of an ethnic food style?

If you’re going to be saddled with an ethnic food style, you damn sure could do worse than soul food.  I’ve had several kinds of African food and some authentic Asian foods, and I’ll take chicken and waffles any day over them.

Besides, if you think that hillbillies are still racist, wouldn’t you want to rub it in their  face that everyone thinks that the fried chicken and cornbread that they love is n- food?


  1. Kristin says:

    You already know how I feel about fried chicken so no need to go there. Anyway, I have heard a lot of black people refer to it as slave food so for some I believe it has a negative connotation. Also, it is considered very unhealthy (along with sedentary lifestyles)and the cause of rising diabetes in the Black community. All that said I LOVE soul food but, I can’t get the husband to eat it too often.

  2. Phelps says:

    It’s not our food that’s unhealthy, it’s our lifestyle. There weren’t any slaves getting fat, no matter what they ate. Pretty much nobody was getting fat at the time, because nobody sat on their ass all day in air conditioning.

  3. LabRat says:

    In my experiences in the south at least, they *have*. You can get a lot of good soul food explicitly advertising it as such, and there are even restaurants abroad with southern black American proprietors marketing soul food just as other ethnic cuisine restaurants do. You’re still not likely to see watermelon on the menu, but that’s generally enjoyed fresh when in season by black and white alike, if not as watermelon pickle from the older generation, again of both races.

    It’s the historical context with the mocking and shaming that makes it still a sore spot coming from someone else, or at least as far as I can see.