Friday's Top Ten: Soul Food Dishes

It's back!!! The top ten makes its '06 debut. After a week of race, economics and foreign affairs, we've earned the right to take it easy and talk about something everybody loves - food. More specifically, SOUL FOOD!!!

Now, everybody does their soul food a little differently. Southerners have a lock on the fried chicken and who makes shrimp gumbo better than folks from New Orleans? Now, some will say Cajun and soul food aren't the same but hey, it's my list and I'm making it so today. Sue me.

Anyway, here is my list of the top ten soul food dishes. Ya'll have a good weekend - and happy eating.


1. Collard Greens: Can you even call it a soul food dinner without collard greens? They are the staple of any Sunday dinner at grandma's house. Add a little seasoning salt and a touch of sugar and oh my goodness... the world becomes a beautiful place.

2. Candied Yams: Where I'm from, a bowl of candied yams is more precious than gold. I'll share greens and I might even give up some dressing. But candied yams are a rare commodity and it would take a whole lot for me to give some away. I made my first batch this past Christmas. It was cool - but I have a long way to go.

3. Homemade Macaroni & Cheese: Kraft aint got nothing on my grandmother's Mac & Cheese. I still recall how beautiful it looked the first time a pan is pulled from the oven. The golden brown top layer was evidence that we were about to partake in something special. I can smell it now.

4. Sweet Potato Pie: Can you even have a Thanksgiving dinner without a sweet potato pie? It is the pinnacle of any large family gather where dinner is served. I can actually eat an entire pie in one sitting but I never do because once the pie is gone... it's gone. It's not something you make every week so you have to savor the moment.

5. Hot Water Cornbread: I have no idea how to make it and it really doesn't have much of a taste to it. But when placed on the side of delectable collard greens, it became a glorious thing to behold.

6. Dressing: And I'm not talking about that sacrilegious crap they call stove top stuffing. No sir, I'm talking about the stuff you make out of cornbread and doused with the juice from the turkey. Dressing is the foundation on which every other soul food dish rest. If your dressing is not good, your dinner is not good. My best friend's mom makes the best dressing I've ever had. And that's saying a lot considering my grandmother cooked like it was going out of style.

7. Black Eye Peas: They do have an odd taste to them, but they belong. My folks make them with a little okra. Now, I can't stand okra so I always tossed that to the side. Some of the best conversations I've ever had were had over a nice hot plate of black eye peas and cornbread.

8. Pork Ribs: We cannot forget about the meat. I prefer my pork ribs cooked over hot coals (those of you with gas grills, you should be ashamed of yourselves) and doused with barbecue sauce. If you prepare and grill them properly, the meat should fall off of the bones. Oh, my mouth waters for the delectable taste of Grade A ribs with sauce filled with a perfect blend of brown sugar and vinegar.

9. Pork Chops: C'mon, ya'll know some pork chops were going to be on the list. I know you Muslim cats can't get with it, but the rest of us swine lovers know the importance of a good pork chop covered in pepper and Lawry's Seasoning Salt (no other seasoning salt with do). Prepared in a skillet and served with collard greens & cornbread. Pork chops are the perfect alternative to fried chicken. After all, it is the other white meat.

10. Kool-Aid: You may be asking yourself, how is kool-aid and dish? Well, my naive suburbanite, kool-aid is the quintessential catalysts between all of the other dishes and a required element to making a soul food dinner... soulful. Eating barbecue ribs is not complete unless washed down with a nice tall glass of Red kool-aid. And yes, Red is an actual flavor.

Discussion Starters:

1. What is your favorite Soul Food dish?
2. Is there a dish you cook better than most people you know?
3. What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?
4. What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?


26 Responses to Friday's Top Ten: Soul Food Dishes

  1. stuffle Says:
    What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?

    Indian food, as in India, not as in "Native American"...

    What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?

    Depends on what I am in the mood for. There are several good Indian places in Milwaukee and one pretty good one in Cedar Rapid, IA (or at least there was the last time I spent time there on business).

    I am also a fan of several of the bars in downtown Milwuakee. A lot of them have excellent "Bar and Grill" type food.

    There is a little smokey hole in the wall bar here in Watertown, WI, called "Biggs Bar and Grill" (or something like that). They have excellent burgers that will clog your arteries in no time if you make a regular habit of eating there. I like to go there from time to time...
  2. Rell Says:
    lol all i can think about is the boondocks episode from this past week...
  3. NEO, SOC Says:
    That dish looks real good; but my arteries are trembling! LOL!

    1. What is your favorite Soul Food dish?

    Chitterlings. NOT! Those ribs were looking pretty tasty!

    2. Is there a dish you cook better than most people you know?

    3. What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?
    Sushi or Indian Food

    4. What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?
    Still working on that one....

    Nice break James; although one quick thing I mentioned before: I vote for your Magazine to be called 'Racial Rhetoric'. Or at least call the book you write from these blogs with the same title. Just mention in the prologue the hypocrisy of each race using its own slurs against each other.
  4. James Manning Says:
    That's the only problem with soul food... it has the ability to take a few decades off of your life. People are learning how to cook soul food healthier.


    Chicago: Dixie Kitchen, Wishbones, Gibsons, The Green Dolphin, The Shark Bar

    Los Angeles: Roscoe's, Main Stree Cafe in El Segundo, Islands
  5. Dave Miller Says:
    You are too funny. When I started dating my soon to be wife, I learned the joys of kool aid as the ultimate drink for the big family gatherings.

    As a white guy growing up when I had my first Thanksgiving with her family, it was quite an experience. There were no peas, no mashed potatos, no Mrs. Cubbison's, and no milk.

    It had all been replaced by home made mac n cheese, corn bread stuffing, real gravy, and greens. And New Years Day now always brings black eyed peas and gumbo. What a great place God has brought me to.

    Favorite restaurant? Certainly one of them is a little hole in the wall Oaxacan place at Santa Monica and Brockton called Monte Alban. The best mole in Los Angeles!
  6. Robosquirrel Says:
    Ethnic food? Wow. I guess it's mexican/southwestern food, it's hard to choose, but I eat Mexican food all the time since it's my wife's favorite. I also love Caribbean, Indian and Scandinavian food.

    I make lefse pretty well - a swedish potato tortilla, essentially. And Buffalo wings. I make excellent (award-winning) Buffalo wings!
  7. Cynthia Says:
    The last thing I will say before I go on my hiatus.

    1. I don't like traditional soul food with all the bad crap. I've modified everything I eat so that it is totatlly healthy.

    2. I make a mean gumbo and shrimp etouffee.

    3. My favorite ethnic foods are Ethiopian and Indian. I can't choose between the two.

    4.My favorite restuarant is Ras Dashen and Arya Bhavan. They both are located in Chicago
  8. Rell Says:
    Chapel Hill has so many good places to eat, I don't even know where to begin.

    But I'm a big fan of traditional thanksgiving food. I love greens (without all the pork) and REAL macaroni and cheese.
  9. MEP Says:
    I love sushi and japanese cuisine in general, Thai, authentic Mexican and Greek food. Oh, and I actually really enjoy my family's traditional Mennonite dishes. Verenika, Bierocks, Cherry Moos and Schnetka - fabulous! (low german stuff) That's right, this KS farm girl is also a Mennonite.

    Anywho - I love candied yams almost more than another other holiday dish, but mashed potatoes are important too. I love stuffing, but I'm not sure I've ever had the "authentic" type that you described James.

    Our big family meals always have to include home-canned green beans, NEVER store-bought. They had to be raised in the garden, picked, stemmed and canned at home (I think it's a Mennonite thing - but it you've never had home-canned you are MISSING OUT). We also typically have peppernuts and divinity at family reunions - someone always brings them. Oh and Zwiebak. That's always there too (a dinner roll that looks a bit like a snowman with only two sections instead of three).
  10. Jaimie Says:
    1. What is your favorite Soul Food dish?

    Macaroni and Cheese
    2. Is there a dish you cook better than most people you know?

    You tell me? You love my cooking, so maybe. I like to make a roast and vegetables, although I don't really eat it. I need to make that for you again. Remind me...
    3. What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?

    Mexican food. Hands down. I think I was a Mexican in a past life or something bc I can't get enough of it.
    4. What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?

    La Cabana. Venice, California. They're open to 3am, when most bars in LA close at 2-so you can get a Margarita and guacamole really late!
  11. James Manning Says:

    you're roast is the bomb. you need to hook that up for your birthday dinner next week. you'll have to take me there - but as you know, i'm not big on mexican food - but it's not bad.

    mep: greek food is really good. i've hit up a couple greek spots in chicago and in detroit and i enjoyed it.

    neo: i like salmon. i never tried to make it..

    "Racial Rhetoric" that's a good name for a book.
  12. Bullfrog Says:
    1. What is your favorite Soul Food dish?
    Definitely mac and cheese, and I like my collards with tomato and vinegar.

    2. Is there a dish you cook better than most people you know?
    Eggplant parmesan

    3. What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?
    Mexican, I live in Southern Cali, so we have it in abundance and 90% of it is tha bomb!

    4. What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?

    Los Panchos in Hillcrest, San Diego they use fresh tortillas and they have great carne asada.

    BTW that picture is making it impossible for me to enjoy my now boring lunch, Thanks!
  13. Diane S. Says:
    What is your favorite soul food dish?

    Hands down, candied yams. Cooked with marshmallows and an obscene amount of brown sugar. I will fight you over a dish like that.

    Good corn bread, dripping in butter, runs a close second.

    Oh! And the pork ribs. Meat falling off the bone... such stuff as dreams are made of.

    And Mac & Cheese - the real stuff. Now that's heaven.

    But if you just want one answer, it's the candied yams.

    Is there a dish you cook better than most people you know?

    My chicken almondine with mushrooms and wildrice is to die for. It's even better when the chicken is quail.

    I also make a French Onion soup my friends fall over themselves for, and all of them claim to not be able to get it to come out right themselves.

    What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?

    Close call between Mexican Food (an obligatory Texas diet mainstay), and Thai food.

    What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?

    Chow Thai in Lubbock, Texas or Curras Grill in Austin, Texas.
  14. Drew Says:
    1. I don't know if it qualifies as Soul Food, but when I lived in N. Florida we used to have these big fish-fry socials at our church. Fried catfish is something to behold.

    2. Actually, I have a difficult time boiling water. Thank God I have a significant other that can cook!

    3. Probably Mexican. My sig other might not like that response though as she is ethnic Mascedonian and cooks alot of Greek/Yugo food. However, living in California for many years really gave me an appreciation for good Mexican food.

    4. Right now, my favorite restaruant is a local Mexican chain called Vaquero's. It's cheap, greasy, and very very authentic.
  15. Diane S. Says:
    Oh! In Roy, New Mexico - a tiny, tiny little town - there is a cafe that serves Chili Rellenos and Green Chili that are so good, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Hot suff though, expect your eyelids to sweat.
  16. Bullfrog Says:
    Speaking of soul food, my wife just informed me I'll be having beans w/hamhock and cornbread for dinner this evening.
  17. James Manning Says:
    Go ahead Bull. That sounds like the bomb. Let me know how it turns out.
  18. Dan-E Says:
    1. i love me some good fried chicken or short ribs from flossie's or aunt kizzie's back porch.

    2. i make the best guacamole on the east coast. and when i was on the west coast my guac (and my ceviche as well) was so good that my friends declared me an honorary mexican. i carry that distinction with pride.

    3. i love mexican and italian. and sushi. and chinese. and czech. and german... (i'll stop)

    4. waaayy too many to list.
  19. chance Says:
    To James,

    Chance: this reminds me when I was a little boy growing up in Arkansas, I love soul food greens, chicken, coon, deer, mac & cheese, yams, rabbit, cornbread, etc. Man that was some good eating I love the soul food concept of eating.

  20. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    01 29 06

    Hey James Cool post as usual:)
    1. What is your favorite Soul Food dish?
    I like collard and mustard greens cooked with neckbones and turkey tails for the broth and fatback for the meat pieces. I only eat it like this every two years or so with the fatback!!! I also like chitlins and since I am from CA I gotta include Menudo as soul food too;) ha ha ha I also like ham hocks and baked macaroni. I only consume them every three years or so (hamhocks) and the baked macaroni on holidays. I use six different cheeses on it yummmmmmmmmmy!
    2. Is there a dish you cook better than most people you know?
    My husband says he likes my baked and spicy salmon, my rolled stuff cabbage (golumpki), and my dolma better than anyone else's;).
    3. What ethnic food do you most enjoy eating?
    I LOVE Eastern European food, Ethiopian food, Pakistani food and of course, Mexican food!
    4. What is your favorite restaurant and where is it located?
    Hmm I have many favorite restaurants, but one of the bestest ones ever is SIAM BAY in Oakland,CA. It is a Thai Restaurant and the ambiance is wonderful filled with all this cool artwork and their pumpkin seafood stew is the best ever!!!
    Fun post James:)
  21. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
  22. Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden Says:
    1 29 06

    Oh, I forgot to add that my mothers gumbo is cool. She makes it like my family from Lake Charles,LA with a light roux. But I like to make mine with a dark roux, closer to traditional NO style. And I use Andouille AND linguisa with seafood and some chicken pieces with okra. But I only cook gumbo like this every couple of years. So much of the foood is good to the taste but since I am not as physically active as some of my ancestors were, eating like that all the time ain't all that healthy!
  23. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    Hey thanks for enjoying my humor even though it is rightie humor.

    A friend of mine sent a link to me and I thought it was hilarious. It is Dave Chappelle's version of what Bush would be like if he was black. I can't decided if I will link to it in my post because the language is pretty strong. But I knew at least you would probably enjoy it :-). It reminded me of your Cuss out kit. Here's the link:
  24. ProfessorGQ Says:
    all I can say is yum yum yum!!!

    1. mac & cheese
    2. not at all...I'm not a cook
    3. quesadillas
    4. Catch 35 in downtown Chicago
  25. Bullfrog Says:
    Soul Food Update

    The Beans w/Hamhock and Cornbread definitely hit the spot. My wife puts 2 or 3 hocks in every pot and after they are done cooking she removes them , cuts the meat away from the bone, then returns the meat to the beans. A little butter melting all over the cornbread followed by some honey and you have yourself a heavenly meal! Not to mention there is no such thing as a small pot of beans so ya know we got left overs!
  26. Diane S. Says:
    Found this at this on the Christian Science Monitor and knew it belonged in this post:

    On stage, the famous jazz pianist Thelonious Monk wore a collard-leaf pin in his lapel - an act of solidarity, in the guise of a key Southern food, with his sharecropper roots.