Day 4 of Gratitude – What food are you most grateful for?
I’m not just talking about fried chicken and cornbread y’all, although I am from Mississippi and could eat my weight in both!
The term “soul food” originates from the Southern days of slavery. Whatever the masters of the house or farm did not want or deem edible for themselves would normally have been thrown out, but instead, these random animal parts and shady looking vegetables were given to slaves for nourishment.
One of the most famous dishes that was created from these times is known as “chitterlings”, or as I like to pronounce it…chitlins! Yes, you have it right, it DOES sound like shitlins and for a very good reason! “Chitterlings” are actually the intestines of a pig.
Yes, a pig. These are not cute like bacon either, it looks exactly how you are imagining it in your head.
Before you could even think about serving these for consumption, you’d want to douse them in some kind of vinegar and water mixture for sanitary reasons. Then, you must boil them or fry them up and your kitchen starts to smell like…..well, I’ll let you guess that one or find out for yourself!
They don’t look half bad once cooked.
Served next to that might be some overly boiled “weeds” known as collard greens. Usually seasoned with some kind of ham hock or meat fat and cooked to death. This is the kale of the south. Then of course, cornbread. Maybe Mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and fried chicken if you were really lucky!
After working as hard as a slave had to work all day, being treated like less than an animal and thrown scraps for survival, these amazing people took that and made it into what we crave today and refer to as soul food.
They cleaned the food themselves, prepared it from nothing, fried it and listened to the sound of the oil popping out of the skillet! Trying not to burn themselves and laughing at the smell together, talking about life together, the good and the bad. Then, they sat down to pray and eat it together. This wasn’t just the act of preparing a meal, but to prepare their bodies and souls to receive it.
That’s the kind of food we should all be grateful for. The kind which we have the opportunity to prepare and share together. Not just the holiday dinners that so often are commercialized, but the kind of meal that after any long day or week, you can sit around with your loved ones and take peace and comfort in with every bite.
Even if it’s 9:00pm, and there’s a strangely terrible smell coming from the kitchen….