Trying to differentiate soul food from Southern food shouldn’t be complicated. While not all Southern food is considered soul food, all soul food is definitely Southern.
Soul food is an ethnic cuisine traditionally prepared and eaten by African-Americans in the Southern United States. In the late 19th century, the Black Church became a gathering place for the Black community and impacted the development of what’s now considered soul food. Particularly in rural areas, foods like fried chicken, fried fish, sweet potato pie, red drinks, black-eyed peas and more were served during Emancipation celebrations and church gatherings. In the 20th century, more than six million of Southern Black people decided to leave due to poor economic conditions and intense racial oppression. From 1916 to 1970, waves of people moved from their homes, a massive relocation now called “The Great Migration.” They brought their culinary traditions