10 Best Black People Food | African American Food Culture Explained
With its diverse culture and history, there are numerous African American food traditions in America. From the black-and-white cookies in North Carolina to the soul food served up on Chicago’s Blue Island, there is a lot of variety among black foods.
Black food has been around before slavery was abolished in 1865 and will likely continue long after we’re gone! So here are 10 of our favorite black people foods that you should check out.
10 Best Black People’s Food in America
1. Jollof rice
Lightly seasoned ground rice cooked with tomatoes, onions, and green bell pepper seasoned with thyme. It can be served as a side dish or main course with chicken or beef.
There is a thick paste of starchy root vegetables like cassava, yams, and plantains. It’s eaten with your hands using small balls of the paste as a scoop to pick up broth, meat, and vegetables.
3. Soul food
The slaves developed a southern variation on traditional African American food brought to the US from West Africa and were forced to incorporate their native ingredients with those they came across in America.
Soul food is usually served at family reunions, church gatherings, and other special occasions.
4. West African peanut soup
Different varieties of this thick soup are found in most West African nations. It usually consists of chicken, fish, and/or shrimp with peanut butter, oil, tomatoes, and peppers.
5. Hush Puppies
Deep-fried cornmeal balls are made from cornmeal, flour, or cornmeal and flour (called a “drop dough” in some regions) mixed with onions, peppers, and spices. It’s often served with fried catfish or blackened fish.
6. Fried chicken
The American version of fried chicken was probably developed in the southern US. This dish is made with various ingredients, including flour, salt, eggs, milk, or water. It is usually fried in lard or shortening.
7. Chicken and waffles
This dish is made by cooking strips or wings that are then covered in a batter made up of white and wheat flour and melted butter. It’s then fried until golden brown on both sides. The wings are often served with syrup for dipping.
These healthy green leafy vegetables are often cooked with ham hocks for a smoky flavor. It can be served as a side dish or eaten as greens with other foods like chicken wings.
9. Biscuits and gravy
Thick, white gravy consisting of ground beef, potatoes, and leftover chicken drippings from frying chicken wings.
Depending on the recipe, biscuits can be topped with scallions, green peppers, country ham, or cheddar cheese. The sauce is usually served separately for those who do not eat sausage gravy with biscuits.
10. Fried green tomatoes
A crispy twist to the classic dish of tomatoes served with buttermilk dressing and bacon. These fried green tomatoes are seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper before deep-fried.
They’re then served on top of salads or make great appetizers when dipped in cocktail sauce or hot sauce.
African American Food
African American foods are influenced by European, Native American, and Caribbean cooking. For example, cornbread is originally a Native American dish introduced to Europeans by African Americans. The Africans added okra – another staple of soul food and made it their own. Many people may associate it with soul food by the time many people think of African American cuisine.
In America, ‘Soul Food’ has become synonymous with eating mostly fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, and black-eyed peas.
Those are some of the most popular dishes. Recently, however, some African American home cooks have been changing their diets to include more healthy foods.
What is the Most Popular African Food in America
Several African dishes have been adapted for the American palate. However, the most popular dish in America is Jollof Rice. The Jollof Rice recipe gets its name from Senegal, but it was brought to America by Ghanaian immigrants.
Senegalese immigrants eat Jollof rice without tomato sauce and peppers. At the same time, Ghanaians have tomato sauce and black pepper in the recipe. The origins of this dish remain unknown even though there are many different theories as to how it spread across Africa, from Senegal to Ghana.
One of those theories is that of a French Countess who was part of Napoleon’s army in Africa. The Countess was exiled to Senegal, and she brought the dish to her cousin in Ghana.
The dish is also found in other Muslim countries, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, and The Gambia. It is believed that the Jollof Rice recipe originated from the Wolof people, which are a group of people currently living in Senegal and Mauritania.
The Wolof people made the dish because they were poor and lacked ingredients for other food items. They used salt for flavor rather than sugar or spice because sugar was too expensive.
Difference between Black and White Food Culture
Many people believe that black and white culture is no different, but many differences exist.
One of the most notable differences is the dishes served for both occasions. Black people traditionally serve collard greens, macaroni, cheese, sweet potato pie, and pigs’ feet.
Dinner might consist of fried chicken or catfish with cornbread or corn sticks with coleslaw or macaroni and cheese with squash casserole. White culture typically serves rotisserie chicken, roasted vegetables like carrots and broccoli rabe, and ham.
White people have a well-known passion for baking and believe that it is a way of making their kitchen smell nice. Black people don’t typically bake, they are people of the outdoors, and they prefer to eat foods that can be eaten cold without warming them first. Black culture tends to be simple, and they don’t believe in overdoing something.
Many different cultural groups across the world usually serve specific cultural foods.
For example, Italian food is served in Italy, and pizza is served in America for Americans. Food represents culture because each country/city has its own unique dishes and flavors specific to them only. Our food reflects our culture, our history, and our habits.
African Food Guide — A to Z guide for Soul Food
The only cookbook ever published by black people in America is “Soul Food” written by Alexandra Stafford and Pauline Hopkins.
In the book, you will learn everything there is to know about cooking Southern American food, including the best way to use bacon grease for cooking cornbread and boiled peanuts. Unfortunately, it is a very simple book and includes very little information about spices, herbs, etc.
Many African countries share very similar foods, but each region offers its unique flavors. Here is a brief overview of the most popular African dishes and what they are made of.
What is the most popular African food?
The most popular African food is arguably the traditional Ethiopian meal, including injera bread and various stews. The dish can be made with meat, chicken, or vegetarian options and even fish if you want to add something extra.
Injera bread is made from teff, a type of flour that comes from green teff grain grown in Africa’s highlands at elevations over 3,000 meters above sea level. This gives the bread a unique, slightly sour, and tart flavor. It is usually served with a stew or another type of sauce to make the meal more palatable.
A very popular dish in Angola and Zambia, especially among Angolan communities outside the country, is mbuzi. It consists of rice or cornmeal with beans and finely chopped beef or dried fish (Ngambo) or chicken.
The origin of mbuzi lies in Brazilian cuisine. It was introduced by Angolan slaves who worked on sugarcane plantations in Brazil during colonial times.
Why Soul food is popular in South Africa
South African soul food is unique, but it is still trendy in the country itself. This traditional cuisine is a combination of English, Dutch, French, and German cooking styles with some South African ingredients. The term “soul food” was first used to describe the main dishes of African-American slave descendants in America.
While there has long been a debate about whether this food style is fundamentally rooted in African cuisine or not, the truth is that it was created by the slaves who were brought to America from West and Central Africa. They had their own way of cooking their meals and making their creations taste not just good but also something they could eat with pleasure.
The fact that the African slaves were taken across the Atlantic is clear proof that they had developed their own cuisine and liked it. This also proves that soul food is deeply rooted in African culture.
Bapela refers to any meal consisting of beans, vegetables, and meat. The term “bapela” is an abbreviation of the words “bapela ena,” which means “beans with meat.”
Variations on the theme include bapela dumpling (also known as mama dumpling), which has several layers, each containing a different sort of vegetable or meat. It is usually served with gravy on top. In addition, it can be served without gravy with mustard sauce.
Is African food better than American food?
African Food: African dishes tend to include many vegetables like peppers, carrots, and lettuce which are often cooked in tomato sauce. This sauce might be made with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes that have been strained to remove their liquid content.
American Food: American food tends to be much sweeter than African food, with many sugary sauces or cream. Other American foods include chocolate, which is often added to other foods.
If you think about it, American food is pretty sweet. The reason for this is that we have a diet that includes lots of sugar and refined grains.
Americans also eat fewer vegetables than Africa, and they tend to be cooked very blandly, with no seasoning. This has resulted in a selection of processed foods that taste sweet (chips, cakes, soda), which many people like due to their sweetness.