Getting to the Heart of Soul Food

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Over the centuries and throughout the world and every culture, food, and the sharing thereof, tends to warm the heart and knit the soul. It is a platform for business transactions, family negotiation and just friendly fellowship.

Much soul food cooking comes from the Bahamas. Picture looking out over the sea deciding what fish you are going to send the boys to go fish for y’all today. The food writer at recipesfrombahamas.com compares two well-known old sayings. Though we may believe “the eyes are the window to the soul”, she has found one way to a man’s soul is through his heart, and, as her Auntie Rie said, “… the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

Throughout the 700 various islands and cays of the Bahamas, soul food recipes can be gathered from potato bread to conch fritters. One thing you can never get enough of in the Bahamas is the wide variety of seafood dishes, and every island adds its signature to the dish. Says the unidentified author on the web site, “Many times it takes half the day to recover from a Bahamian breakfast only to be faced with a monster… lunch.

“Lunch dishes in the Bahamas tend to overlap with dinner. And because it’s ‘No problem, man’, you can eat anything you want any time of the day: chicken souse for breakfast; stew fish for lunch and it’s no big deal to have a heaping bowl of boil fish for dinner or last night snack.

“Compared to today, where pasta seems to be the buzzword and main staple, back when I was growing up the only pasta we knew was the elbow pasta Auntie Rie used for her famous baked macaroni and cheese. But, I’ll tell you what, I could never figure out how Auntie Rie found so many ways to cook rice: peas and rice, conch and rice, crab and rice, rice below or dirty rice and the list goes on.

“Every day is a good day for a bowl of soup, but no day is more perfect for some good ole Bahamian soup than a rainy day. When the sky was overcast, Auntie Rie would head straight for the market and be the first one at the door when it opened: salt beef, ham bone, cabbage, okra, cassava, sweet potato, yam, green peas, thyme, spare ribs; nothing less than an extra large pot would do. Yes sir, it was Soup Day!

“Of course, you have to have a big pitcher of ‘switcher’ or lemonade, some Gully Wash, that’s coconut water and milk, Bush tea and more. Then there was dessert.”

This is the feast of all feasts and enough to satisfy anyone’s soul.

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