Frederick Opie's culinary history is an insightful portrait of the social and religious relationship between people of African descent and their cuisine. Beginning with the Atlantic slave trade and concluding with the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Opie composes a global history of African American foodways and the concept of soul itself, revealing soul food to be an amalgamation of West and Central African social and cultural influences as well as the adaptations blacks made to the conditions of slavery and freedom in the Americas.
Soul is the style of rural folk culture, embodying the essence of suffering, endurance, and survival. Soul food comprises dishes made from simple, inexpensive ingredients that remind black folk of their rural roots. Sampling from travel accounts, periodicals, government reports on food and diet, and interviews with more than thirty people born before 1945, Opie reconstructs an interrelated history of Moorish influence on the Iberian Peninsula, the African slave trade, slavery in the Americas, the emergence of Jim Crow, the Great migration, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. His grassroots approach reveals the global origins of soul food, the forces that shaped its development, and the distinctive cultural collaborations that occurred among Africans, Asians, Europeans, and Americans throughout history.
Hog and Hominy traces the class- and race-inflected attitudes toward black folk's food in the African diaspora as it evolved in Brazil, the Caribbean, the American South, and such northern cities as Chicago and New York, mapping the complex cultural identity of African Americans as itdeveloped through eating habits over hundreds of years.