• SoulNia

A White Woman from California

Written by Tess Hurlburt

Sometimes, I get the question "What do YOU know about soul food?".  Sometimes, I can feel the confusion and the suspicion when I explain what my role in Soulnia is. Sometimes, folks don't get it until they see Kamiya standing beside me.   

I am a white woman from California; I understand the resentment. I fear that I am perceived as a gentrifier of culture; Yet another white person taking something that is not mine to take.

Soulnia came around at a time when I was at a crossroads in my life. In the most characteristic soul food way, this cuisine brought comfort and purpose into my life that nothing ever had before. I suddenly felt connected to something much deeper and much more important than my own small self. 

I cook this food to honor those who came before me. I cook these greens to be close to my mother in law. I cook this mac to be close to my father in law. I cook this soul food from my heart, as a white woman, to pay tribute to the generations of black families that have existed in this country. I cook this food in memory of my wife's grandmother and great grandmother; who I will never be blessed to meet. I cook this food to shed light on the stories of black people in America; their roots, their struggles, their joys, their persistence. 

Soul food deserves love from all folks. In cooking this cuisine, I help share that story with my white community as much as any other. And maybe, its the white community that needs to hear the stories more than once. 

My wife says that I am the most soulful cook she has ever met, and while I am honored to hear that praise, I am also aware that I am telling the stories of those gone before me; some of whom never had the opportunity to be heard. I respect this food. I respect this culture. I honor this history and I can not wait to humbly feed you. 

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