By Bora Ersoy
The students and faculty of the Germantown campus of Montgomery College received an opportunity February 25 to attend a free seminar and learn the origins, evolution, and the culture of Soul Food. The presenter, Leon C. Thomas III, described his passion with soul food and what it means to him personally. Leon C. Thomas III is a student success and retention advisor at Anne Arundel Community College.
Thomas goes into detail about being a young child in a large family and how preparing a simple dish can form bonds stronger than steel. For Thomas it was not just eating the food, it was eating it with the ones he valued the most.
Thomas’s story perfectly illustrates the same bonds formed by struggling African Americans dating back to the slave period of early America. Slaves back then were only given small portions of undesirable remains left by the owners; this is where some meals like chitterlings and pig feet originated from.
As times changed and slavery was nearly at its end, soul foods began to take meaning in the African American community. The importance of Sunday and communal were highly valued by the people and as the gatherings grew larger, so did the food. With the access of oils and fats the method of southern fried food and barbeque was born.
The once unappealing discards were fried and turn into a delicacy and were eaten by the pounds. The African-American community found their culture and tradition, and as a result became stronger as a whole.
Thomas then asked the viewers what food means to them. Students from all kinds of backgrounds gave insight on their cuisine, its history, and what kind of bonds they form.
The presentation ended with a feast as traditional soul food was served for all who attended. Fresh and hot fried chicken was the main course with collard greens, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and plenty of other sides that made this reporter fall in love with food all over again.