Soul Food by Amiri Baraka (Summary and Reflection)

Soul Food, an essay written by Amiri Baraka with an intent of defending Negroes to the young novelist’s writing in Esquire telling that Negroes don’t have their own language and even cuisine. With such act, Baraka made his way to clarify things out. He believes those who give wrong predictions and claims know nothing about soul food, its history, or how it was served and eaten. In his essay he enumerated some popular soul foods – fried chicken, grit, pig feet, hush puppies, hoecake, mustard greens – and their root on how they were created and came from. Slang terms of those soul foods which were introduced by black Americans were also present and discussed. He said that keeping their original name will make those delicious food easily remembered by people. He believes that this fact is indispensable, and thereby without it, the history of African-American food would be a great loss in the existence of America’s history.

William Lund once said that “We study the past to understand the present; we understand the present to guide the future.” In my opinion, I believe history really takes place in human life. Not knowing this might be a disadvantage to some, and the best example for that is the young Negro novelist who Amiri Baraka mentioned in his essay. It is a shame to a writer to mislead people with wrong information; this would terribly make his credibility questionable. However, that instance can be considered a blessing in disguise for black Americans. Isn’t it nice to know that because of an insulting write-up about them, he was able to produce a wonderful essay? And since his essay happens to be informative, it opens the door to people who know a little about soul food. Maybe this implies that it’s about time that we must pay attention to the history of a certain food. After all, we could not enjoy delicious foods that we are eating if they were not created or discovered in the past. The culture and people behind those foods deserve a credit, and like intellectual properties, they cannot be claimed by anybody.


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