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352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, 1 line drawing, 4 maps, 22 recipes, 11 sidebars, notes, bibl., index

ISBN  978-1-4696-0762-7
Published: August 2013

Soul Food

The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time

By Adrian Miller

Includes 22 recipes

Awards & Distinctions

Honor Book for Nonfiction, Black Caucus of the American Library Association

Finalist, 2014 James Beard Foundation Book Award

In this insightful and eclectic history, Adrian Miller delves into the influences, ingredients, and innovations that make up the soul food tradition. Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish--such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens, and "red drinks"--Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African American culture and identity.

Miller argues that the story is more complex and surprising than commonly thought. Four centuries in the making, and fusing European, Native American, and West African cuisines, soul food--in all its fried, pork-infused, and sugary glory--is but one aspect of African American culinary heritage. Miller discusses how soul food has become incorporated into American culture and explores its connections to identity politics, bad health raps, and healthier alternatives. This refreshing look at one of America's most celebrated, mythologized, and maligned cuisines is enriched by spirited sidebars, photographs, and 22 recipes.

About the Author

Adrian Miller is a writer, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, Colorado. He has served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, a senior policy analyst for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr., and a Southern Foodways Alliance board member.


"An engaging, tradition-rich look at an often overlooked American cuisine--certainly to be of interest to foodies from all walks of life."
--Kirkus starred review

"[A] fascinating look at the cuisine known as soul food and its close cousin, southern cuisine. . . . Photographs and recipes add to the allure of this well-researched look at the past and future of soul food."
--Booklist Starred Review

"[A] comprehensive and entertaining history of soul food. . . . A lively and thorough account for fans of food literature and of African American history. Recipes included. Highly recommended."
--Library Journal

"Focusing each chapter on the culinary and social history of one dish--such as fried chicken, chitlins, yams, greens and 'red drinks'--Miller uncovers how it got on the soul food plate and what it means for African-American culture and identity."
--The Philadelphia Tribune

"A wonderful combination of sociological examination of African-American culture and identity, travelogue and cookbook. . . . It's exactly this combination of earnest curiosity and an unwillingness to take his topic too seriously that makes Soul Food such a great read. . . . I highly recommend this book!"
--Nashville Scene

"Miller moves way past common notions about soul food to offer a fascinating look at the cuisine and its close cousin, southern cooking."
--Booklist Top 10 Food Books of 2013

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