A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 24, 2006
Soul Food
The term "soul food" is used in Harlem, but it is not clear where the term originated. "Soul food" is cited in print from at least 1960.


Wikipedia: Soul food
Soul food is an ethnic cuisine, food traditionally eaten by African Americans of the Southern United States. Many of the various dishes and ingredients included in soul food are also regional fare and comprise a part of white Southern cuisine, as well.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
soul food, (a) fig. spiritual nourishment; (b) orig. U.S. Blacks, the kind of food typically eaten by Black people, spec. those foodstuffs originating in the southern states of America.
1920 W. R. LETHABY in London Mercury Mar. 575 The history that can be seen and touched is a strong and stimulating soul-food, entirely different from vague and wearying written history.
1964 N.Y. Times Mag. 23 Aug. 62/3 Soul food, chitterlings, collard greens, ham hocks, grits, black-eyed peas and rice, and the like.

29 December 1960, Los Angeles (CA) Sentinel, "Candid Comments" by Gertrude Gipson, pg. A15:
How popular mixologist Bill Davis who is "pouring the corn" nitely at the RED CARPET refuses to eat anything but Peaches and Cottage Cheese in the a.m. Claims he can't eat the "soul" food like Ham and Grits.

25 March 1961, Philadelphia (PA) Tribune, "Philly After Dark" by Masco Young, pg. 5:
CONSIDER YOURSELF A SQUARE if you don't know what "soul food" is. It includes such down-home delicacies as stewed chicken and rice, fried chicken, rice, gravy and greens, and ham hocks and black-eyed peas.

15 April 1961, Cleveland (OH) Call and Post, "You're Strictly Square, If You Don't Dig 'Soul Jive'" by Masco Young, pg. 7B:
"Got news for you, Cool," said Sunny. "Don't know 'bout the soul clothes yet, but I was in a place in New York last week where they specialize in soul food!"

"You kiddin -- !"

"Naw, I'm serious. That's why I went in there in the first place. It's right across from the Metropole jazz place on Broadway, and they got a big sign that say 'Soul Food' outside the restaurant."

Cool was curiously interested. "Now just what the hell do they call 'soul food'?" he asked.

"Dig", said Sunny. "They had smothered and fried chicken and barbecued chicken with that down-home gravy. They had chicken and dumplings, pork chops, chitterlings, ham hocks, and some of the best old turnip and collard greens I ever eat --."

27 May 1961, Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, "Wrinkles Top 'Scarf' Where Hank Ballard Is Concerned," pg. A23:
"I'll travel many miles out of the way to get a place where I can get that down-home 'soul food,'" Hank Ballard declared recently.

"When I say soul, I'm talking about chitterlings, barbecued ribs and chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens and rice."

24 June 1961, Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, pg. 21:
HOW DIET-CONSCIOUS combo leader Bill Doggett had to decline the tempting "soul food" dinner popular St. Louis deejay Dave Dixon had planned for the famous organist, while he was in town for the big show at Kiel Auditorium. "I dig the 'soul food'." Doggett explained, "but I'm afraid it doesn't dig me."

3 March 1962, Chicago (IL) Defender, "Zig and Zag with Ziggy Johnson," pg. 10:
Mom's kitchen has "soul" food.

7 April 1962, Chicago (IL) Defender, "Zig and Zag with Ziggy Johnson," pg. 10:
Buddy and Dottie Rose had their mother to cook Sarah Vaughn and hubby C. B. Atkins some soul food.

5 May 1962, Chicago (IL) Defender, pg. 10 ad:
NOW OPEN 24 HOURS
McKie's & Caesar's
STEAK HOUSE
.STEAKS, SOUL FOOD
.FRIED CHICKEN
.BREAKFAST . LUNCH . DINNER
6319 COTTAGE

2 June 1962, Chicago (IL) Defender, "Zig and Zag with Ziggy Johnson," pg. 10:
When trumpeter Miles Davis hits town, he heads straight for Mom's Kitchen and the soul food. Schoolmarm Shirley McNeil on TV, channel 56.

22 June 1963, Chicago (IL) Defender, "Integrated TV Station Learns Pros, Cons of Negro Appeal," pg. 9:
The biggest blast of disapproval was leveled against the station after a Negro bandleader H. B. Barnum, had a caterer bring in such so-called "soul" foods as turnip greens, chitterlings, and cornbread, to be eaten on camera while musicians explained what "soul music" was all about.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Saturday, June 24, 2006 • Permalink