Saturday 14 December 2019

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Soul food takes centre stage

Wednesday, 29th May, 2019 4:38pm

Soul in the City is happening this weekend with another great line-up and our very own Queen of Soul, Karen Underwood will be performing at the Everyman celebrating the life and music of Aretha Franklin. Jack O’Rourke and Bad Boy Blues are also performing.

As with all good music festivals, music and food go hand in hand and Soul in the City is no exception with bars and restaurants in the Victorian Quarter offering their idea of soul food.

But what exactly is soul food?

For some reason, I always thought of soul food as a Caribbean cuisine – and how wrong was I with that assumption!

The term was coined in the ‘60s referring to food prepared and eaten by slaves in the south of the United States. Slaves were given tight rations and had to be creative in cooking the meagre snippets of leftovers and cheap cuts of meat given by their captors.

Food is part of our identity and has been for hundreds of years and slaves in the United States of Amercia tried to keep some of their own food traditions alive with cooking methods and flavours, blurring the lines of what was new and traditional cooking.

Today, soul food in the States means deep-fried chicken, cornbread and sticky pork ribs and is very popular.

Here in Cork, we have a different approach to soul food as can be tasted at the Soul in the City Taste Trail.

Check out Gallagher’s (serving a King Creole with chicken, prawns, chorizo in a Cajun sauce), Gourmet Burger (offering a Cajun salmon dish), The Met in the Metropole Hotel (seared tuna in Cajun spices – Karen Underwood’s favourite dish), Son of a Bun (Cajun chicken salad), Issacs (southern fried chicken – quite traditional), The Bridge (spiced lamb), Novecento (with a twist on a pizza) and Greenes Restaurant (offering Cajun pork belly).

If I had to describe soul food as a concept, I would think of deep spices, rich marinades, succulent meats and colourful vegetables. Meats slow-cooked for maximum flavour, pulled apart pork and beef, fresh fish and seafood in thick spicy sauces mixed with rice.

I would think of friends gathering around the table, sharing their food and stories with love and laughter.

It means great music, full bellies and happy faces.

With that in mind, soul food for me is any food that has been prepared with love and care for people you love. is a blog that covers the history of soul food quite well in an article if you are interested in learning more about it.

This blog covers not only American cuisine but African as well with tasty recipes like efo-riro, a Nigerian vegetable stew or etouffée, a crawfish rice dish (the recipe asks for can of cream shrimp, cream of mushroom and tomato sauce – so might give it a skip).

Whatever you decide to cook – add a pinch of love and care and it will taste amazing!

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