Culinary historian Adrian Miller, the 2014 James Beard Award recipient, will be the center of attention when the Cotton Museum hosts Soul Food Sunday on May 25th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the museum at 65 Union Ave.
The free event will celebrate the release of Miller's new book, "Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time." The Cotton Museum's event organizers said attendees should expect to learn and taste along as Miller uncovers "the influences, ingredients and innovations behind this uniquely American tradition and our very own culinary history."
In addition to a discussion and book signing with Miller, guests will have the chance to enjoy soul food from local restaurants and music from Greg Mason's Gospel Ensemble. Some of Memphis' tastiest treats will be available from The Gay Hawk, Alchemy, Deja Vu, R.P. Tracks and Local Gastropub.
Miller's book offers his special insight into this distinctly African-American cuisine. In preparation for his book, Miller visited 150 soul food restaurants in 35 different cities and found himself on a quest to give the cuisine a public makeover. Aside from personal experiences, Miller uses a wealth of sources to show how food and culture intersect on the plate.
The book references historic newspapers, cookbooks and firsthand accounts from slaves and plantation visitors. By creating a representational soul food dinner (from the fried chicken to the black-eyed peas), Miller takes a closer look at each aspect of the meal – tracing the various influences, ingredients, and innovations that are the mark of the African-American soul food tradition and identity.
According to Miller, his book is a "love letter to past, present, and future African American cooks" and he hopes that the time has come for these cooks to "take their rightful place in the pantheon of African-American cultural performers."
The Soul Food Sunday discussion is part of the Cotton Museum's Southern Discovery: Author Series, a program that invites the community to enjoy talks from authors exploring southern experience, culture and history.