We’re excited to announce our first-ever Soul Food Week, eight days dedicated to a uniquely American cuisine that will feature delicious down-home cooking in honor of one of the pillars of African American foodways, one of monumental importance we feel is the most under-rated cuisine in America.
Soul Food Week was conceived last summer, after our our July Newsletter in which we spotlighted Adrian Miller’s brilliant book Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, sparked some emails. A long-time regular customer commented that they once called asking if we had soul food, and we said we don’t have soul food but since we’re Southern, they’d probably find something they’d like. They they came in, and became fans, and thanked us for the link to Miller’s book. Another customer suggested that we do a Soul Food Week, like a popup, because it’s hard to find good soul food in Chicago so why not hook her (and her friends and family) up? That suggestion was hard to resist.
What is the difference between soul food and Southern food? I’d suggest coming to the special dinner we’re doing with Soul Food Scholar Adrian Miller on January 18th to find out the answer to that question. It may surprise you.
Over the last few years such iconic soul food restaurants as Army and Lou’s, Edna’s, and Izola’s have closed, while others such as Pearl’s Place and Lem’s Barbecue continue to thrive, and still others struggle. That’s the restaurant business. But there have been reports from around the country of the difficulties soul food restaurants face to survive in a rapidly changing restaurant landscape. To that reality, the last chapter of Miller’s book is titled “Whither Soul Food?” and I felt a calling to explore the questions he asks in that chapter. During and after our author dinner with Adrian on the 18th, expect some deep discussion on that very question.
To the comment that it’s hard to find good soul food in Chicago: it certainly is on the North Side, so here we are, but there continue to be great spots around the city, so we’ll also look to highlight African American-owned soul food restaurants in Chicago so you’ll be able to further explore the soul food tradition around the city. With the abundance of ethnic cuisines in Chicago, I think our soul food restaurants remain easily the most underrated category, and by introducing our North Side clientele to soul food in our little shop, it is my sincerest hope that we may begin to change that and soul food can take its rightful seat at the table with these many other world cuisines.
So, come by and enjoy delicious soul food, and get tipped off to other great soul food spots around town that are under the radar. For some of you, it will be a chance to enjoy a cuisine you know and love, but I suspect for much of our North Side clientele, it will be a fresh and new discovery, and that’s what we’re looking to provide. Please join us any time during Soul Food Week, and take a gander at the special dinner we are offering with the Soul Food Scholar on Sunday the 18th.
Lots of you regulars are also fans of our music selection, and I personally am curating a playlist of old and new soul music to set the mood, from Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Erykah Badu with all of our favorite Chicago, Detroit, and Memphis artists in between.
The menus are linked below, please check them out. We are crazy excited about this and hope you’ll join us for our first Soul Food Week.
And just for fun, here’s the special dinner we’re doing on the 18th. Please call 773-275-5725 for reservations.
The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine
With Adrian Miller, The Soul Food Scholar
Sunday, January 18, 2015
Hibiscus Aid Rum Coolers
Cognac and Sweet Tea Cocktails
Nanticoke Catfish Bites
Hot Water Cornbread with Honey and Homemade Cherry Bomb Hot Sauce
Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Memphis-style Sauce
Corn Flake Fried Chicken
Chitlins Duran, Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce
Purple Hulls Peas with Boiled and Buttered Rice
Nyesha Arrington’s Mac ‘n Cheese
Johnetta’s Mixed Greens
Momma Cherri’s Candied Carrots
Minnie Utsey’s “Never Fail” Cornbread
Hot Banana Pudding with Meringue