An enthusiastic group of 70 guests gathered at WKAR on January 10 to see a preview from the Independent Lens documentary "Soul Food Junkies" and learn more about the cultural legacy and health-related issues connected to this culinary tradition.
Following the video preview, panelists Laura DeLind, Andrea King Collier and Lorraine Weatherspoon added their personal and professional insight from the perspectives of both health and culture. A lively and fascinating discussion followed, with audience members sharing their personal stories along with asking questions about the topics presented in the film and discussion.
Cooking On Display
Guests were also able to see some classic soul food and African American cookbooks in a lobby display from the MSU Library, which holds an extensive collection of thousands of cookbooks representing cultures all over the world, with special attention to American culinary history, regional and ethnic cooking. You can learn more about the collection HERE.
The library has recently begun reprinting rare cookbooks from its collections on its Espresso Book Machine. MSU’s e-commerce site has a selection of the library’s Michigan cookbooks for sale online HERE.
The Audience Perspective
“It was walking down memory lane looking at the food," said guest Vernice Smith. " I have three aunts who owned a restaurant and a bakery when I was growing up. The oldest one died 5 years ago; she was 102. I wanted to come and learn more about how African American eating habits are bad because I eat soul food all the time and I don’t have a weight problem or diabetes,” she said.
Nettie Wood arrived at the screening after driving in from the Flint airport following a vacation with her family.
"I like the fact that the children in my community have made it a sense of community by coming over and sharing my soul food with my granddaughter. They love doing that," she said. "They see a bit of our culture. They see grandma cooking. Some of them have not seen that before. They taste food that they have not tasted before. It brings the community together. The adults may not do that, but the children started doing that.”
Brandon Brooks said "My girlfriend and I come to most of the WKAR events. We thought this one would be interesting to attend and we’re going to watch the movie when it comes out.”
Brooks said that for him the most interesting part of the evening and discussion was "learning about the soul food culture and the socio-demographic changes that have taken place." He attended the event with his girlfriend and added that they are not typical soul food eaters. "We’ve been to similar places, but never an authentic place like Peaches as mentioned in the film.”
When asked if seeing the film and hearing the panel might inspire her to do anything different with her cooking, Smith said, "I’m going to look for different spices now for seasoning. The panel gave me some resources and places I can go to learn about that.”
See "Soul Food Junkies" on WKAR!
The full, hour-long version of the Independent Lens documentary "Soul Food Junkies" will air Monday, January 14, at 10 p.m. on WKAR. It will also be available for online viewing at WKAR.org after the premiere broadcast.