Soul Food Part II: The Afya (Health) of Soul Food
This is the second article of a three part series on American Soul Food featuring Corey McCathern of Corey’s Soul Food here in Milan. Though soul food originated in the South, Soul Food restaurants can be found in every African-American community in the U.S. especially in cities with large ethnic populations, such as Chicago, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Washington, DC. But recently, Soul Food has started to make an appearance on the International food scene, Milan being just one example of a city where people are discovering the taste, history and overall beauty of the soul food kitchen.
The secret to a healthy diet is all about balance.
Soul food enriches the soul as well as the stomach by making the inedible edible. This challenge was one of many that enslaved African Americans were faced with. Enslaved families turned humble food into pleasurable meals for their families. Soul food is like no other type of food. Many people mistakenly believe soul food is unhealthy because it is largely made out of the type of food people normally wouldn’t eat such as offal. Soul food is a diet that is largely based on vegetables, fruits as well as small portions of meats. Linking the fresh ingredients with certain methods of cooking has given the world a type of food that is is only delicious and heartwarming, but also “afya”, or healthy.
In the first part of this three-part series, Corey and I talked a lot about why soul food is such an important part of the American culture. Corey’s personal history and soul food are intrinsically linked. He and I chatted about the intersectionality of soul food. Our discussion
Before moving forward, I want to explain a
Corey used to be a model and a personal trainer before turning full-time chef. Although he’s cooking soul food all day, he maintains that the secret to a healthy diet is all about balance. This means you’re not eating just salads, but a mixture of foods that benefit you greatly in terms of health and taste. “Growing up, I thought everything that we ate was soul food from America, even when having Indian or Chinese. I thought a hamburger was soul food, but that’s what we ate sometimes, hot dogs, sandwiches.” Corey reconnected to soul food when he started cooking his grandmother recipes for friends and his adopted Italian family here in Italy.
I was very much into fitness…
Corey believes that soul food does not have to be bad for your health. If you want to be fit, you should also engage in physical activity to keep you at your desired weight and form. Corey used to work out every day. During his modeling days, he was very much into fitness. It was only after he broke his ankle really badly that he had to readjust his fitness goals. In fact, Corey couldn’t walk for a year. Corey thought he would never walk again. Being able to connect to his familial roots through cooking soul food help him to rebalance himself emotional.
After a long break, Corey got back into his fitness schedule. This time away from the weights and treadmills allowed Corey to immerse himself in the business 100%. This transition was important for the smooth evolution of his Milan restaurant. Corey is now focuse
…it all comes down to finding healthier ways of cooking soul food…
During our meal, Corey tops our salad with a little bacon for good measure, a bit of cheese and some white dressing and you’ve incorporated the elements of good soul food into a bowl full of spinach. This simple gesture transforms the boring salad into a meal worth remembering while keeping it on a respectable level of health and freshness.
In America, Soul food is well
Corey changes his menu every single day. He believes the more variety
You can be healthy eating nothing but soul food
As Corey said, “you can be healthy eating nothing but soul food if you know what to eat when to eat and how to cook it properly”. He believes that by adding flavor where needed, cutting on fats where you can and making every single dish count is what his food is about. According to Corey if you are cooking soul food wrong, even something as simple as a salad will still feel unhealthy. It’s all about balance.