Tag Archives: Lois the Pie Queen

Rib-sticking soul food: The original Oakland cuisine?

Brown Sugar Kitchen Oyster Po'Boy Smoked Mashed Yams Black Eyed Pea Salad
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New restaurants are popping up like wildflowers in now hip Oakland neighborhoods like Temescal, Rockridge, and Uptown, and the foodie frenzy has descended on the city like a swarm of ravenous bees. But what many of these eaters forget is that Oakland has never lacked for good food, perhaps only Internet glamour. Tacos and barbeque are good bets for a taste of pre-hipster Oakland, but one of the best ways to eat in Oakland is a huge platter of soul food.

Arguably one of the few true American cooking styles, soul food is a multifaceted blend of cuisines borne in the Southeastern US. Most of the dishes one associates with soul food today could be traced directly to the resourcefulness of poverty-stricken slave cooking: pork scraps and fatback were used to flavor greens discarded from plantations and corn from the native soil. Ingredients like okra, sesame seeds, yams, and peanuts were introduced to the Southern American diet from direct imports from Africa, and techniques like alkalizing corn to make hominy grits were borrowed from the Native Americans scattered across the South. Frying in rendered lard was a cheap and easy method for cooking a filling meal, and it provided a convenient technique for preparing celebratory dishes like fried chicken when there was an abundance of food. … Continue reading »

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