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Soul Food Odyssey

Stephanie L. Tyson

$19.95 paperback
6 x 8.5
168 pages
color photos throughout
July 7, 2015

In the introduction to Soul Food Odyssey, Chef Stephanie Tyson describes her early feelings when people assumed her Sweet Potatoes restaurant was a “soul food” establishment. “Soul food to me was like the boxer George Foreman,” she says. “He would stand and go toe-to-toe. It wasn't pretty but he got the job done. Southern food, on the other hand, was more like Muhammad Ali—fancier footwork but the same effectiveness. I wanted Ali. I missed the connection that they were both great fighters. Once I got off my high horse, I wanted to know, from a culinary point of view, how do you make what is essentially castaway food into a ‘cuisine’?”

In Soul Food Odyssey, Tyson takes readers along on her journey back to find the food her grandmother called “sumntaeat.” The recipes she shares include how to cook various parts of the pig from “the router to the tooter”; other meat dishes, including everything from stewed turkey wings and pot roast to a Low Country boil; what Tyson calls “stone soul sides,” including crackling cornbread, hoecakes, and, of course, different kinds of greens; soups and stews including oxtail and fish head stew and “Everything in It Vegetable Soup”; and desserts “to sell your soul for."

Along with the recipes come Tyson’s comments, which reflect her biting wit as well as her deep appreciation of the food she has come to embrace.