Carla Hall on the Meaning of Soul Food—Plus, Her Favorite Cookbooks in the Genre
"As Black people, we are everywhere—our food is everywhere."
Whether reading one of her fabulous cookbooks, watching her on TV, or following along with her for a quarantine "recess" workout on Instagram, we've long adored the culinary star and Nashville native, Carla Hall.
In a new interview with Delish.com, Hall spoke openly about what Soul Food means to her and its importance in American culture—and we were moved by the celebrity chef's insightful commentary. "As Black people, we are everywhere—our food is everywhere. But the more you can allow yourself to be influenced [by] the way that Soul Food maybe 400 years ago was influenced, the richer we are," she told the food media outlet, noting that a trip several year's back to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., enlightened her of the massive scope of Soul Food. "Until I was there and looking at the vast perception of all of the Black people from around the country, I'd never really thought about it. I thought that the South owned Soul Food because that's where I lived."
Previously, Hall has told Southern Living why she believes the phrase "Soul Food" demands capitalization: "Usually a cuisine is capitalized because it comes from a particular place. Well, we [Black people] don't have a place. It's not my fault—or the cuisine's—that it cannot be attached to a place or a country," she said in a powerful statement. We'll be heeding that advice and capitalizing the cuisine from here on out, for sure.
At the end of the Delish.com interview, Hall shared some of her favorite Soul Food cookbooks. Two of the standouts for us? First, SOUL: A Chef's Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by chef Todd Richards (Buy It: $22.88; Amazon.com). Admittedly, we're a bit biased since the tome was published by Oxmoor House, part of Southern Living's book division. From Grilled Peach Toast with Pimento Cheese and Pan-Roasted Okra to Fried Chicken Gizzards with Honey Mustard and Fermented Ramps and Pound Cake and Whipped Cream, there's no shortage of tantalizing recipes to choose from in this award-winning cookbook from 2018. Second, we're huge fans of chef Lazarus Lynch's Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul (Buy It: $16.70; Amazon.com). The debut cookbook comes from the son of a Guyanese mother and Alabama-born father who operated a Soul Food restaurant in Queens, New York, and features more than 100 recipes with hits like Shrimp and Crazy Creamy Cheddar Grits and Cornflake-Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes with Chipotle Ranch. Our mouths are watering already.
What Soul Food dish will grace our dinner table tonight? It's about all we can think about at the present moment, so if you'll excuse us, we've got some research to do.