Emmaus men celebrate heritage

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Mar 09, 2011 - 05:34 PM

Photo: The Men’s Choir of Emmaus Baptist Church performed and cooked—both with excellence—celebrating National Black History Month. From left, Thomas Hayes, Raymond Willis Sr., Cleo Hayes, Julesaint Verilus, Roy Cosby, Orien Boyd, Flinton Lee and Harold Smith provided a soul food dinner that not only sated the soul but the palate also. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day.

The Men’s Choir of Emmaus Baptist Church performed and cooked—both with excellence—celebrating National Black History Month. From left, Thomas Hayes, Raymond Willis Sr., Cleo Hayes, Julesaint Verilus, Roy Cosby, Orien Boyd, Flinton Lee and Harold Smith provided a soul food dinner that not only sated the soul but the palate also. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day.

The members of Emmaus Baptist Church at North recently celebrated Black History Month by recalling and producing the music, dance, prose and foods their culture has shared with the world for years past, continuing to share today. These customs can never be more appreciated than when they come from the kitchen.

It was the men’s turn to be the cooks; and this they did in style and abundance. Their menu: fried chicken, baked chicken, pig’s feet, chitterlings, rice and beans, potato salad, collard greens, cornbread, sweet potato pie, coconut pie and bread pudding—all soul foods.

Some may ask exactly what soul food is. To begin with, soul food is comfort food. It was born in the United States, originated and developed by slaves and their descendants. Its humble beginnings started with leftovers; the slaves used what their masters did not eat. They combined these leftovers with home-grown vegetables, creating their own dishes. Nothing was wasted. An evening meal following a long day of back-breaking work in the hot southern sun brought food for their souls at the day’s end. Recipes were verbally shared, but rarely written down, and became African-American cuisine.