Yes, Virginia, There is Soul Food in Oregon
I’ll admit I probably like the idea of soul food more than the actual greasy, stick-to-your-thighs dishes. Still, I sought it out at Amy Ruth’s and Manna’s while reporting on Harlem, and I bemoaned the surprising dearth of restaurants serving it up in Baltimore. And in this lily white land of culinary plenty, I’ve often said the one cuisine we lack is Southern-style soul food.
Yet this week, all those staples–fried chicken and barbecued brisket, potato salad, mac ‘n’ cheese, stewed greens, fried catfish–were served up at a place you wouldn’t normally praise for its food. A college cafeteria. We’ve been more than pleased by the special fare prepared by OSU’s Dining Services, such as the Taste of Southeast Asia banquet we enjoyed for $7 last year. This week, their $8 Black History Month feast was even better. The only thing I didn’t like was the “tofu creole.” I should have known. Sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Even dessert–mini sweet potato and pecan pies and bananas foster–was delicious. Dan said the food was better than anything he had at Yale.
Speaking of Black History Month, check out our recent KBOO Food Show on the discrimination faced by black farmers here and nationwide. We had lots of folks call in and are quite proud of the show. And I’d welcome any recommendations of soul food to try here. We still need to get to Portland’s acclaimed Podnah’s Pit BBQ. And then there’s Papa’s Soul Food Kitchen in Eugene. But it’s tragic that Ted “Papa” Lee himself died unexpectedly before we go to go. I’m thankful we at least got to see Papa play the blues once right here in Corvallis, at Block 15.