In the African-American community, weddings are a time of great exuberance and joy. How we celebrate is indicative of our culture, our families and our past. And for most of us, that means food… and lots of it! For people who share an African heritage, good food goes hand in hand with wonderful occasions. Our ancestors knew that when there was an event to celebrate, the women would pull together and use their formidable culinary talents to create a meal fit for kings. We now take that knowledge and expand it into this special event… the wedding reception.
For some of you, the idea of "soul food" fits right into your scheme of things. Imagine a meal of your grandmother's golden fried chicken, fresh tender greens from the garden, incredible sweet potato pudding and smooth buttery biscuits to top it off! But at the same time, you want to have the elegance and tradition of a formal dinner, complete with beautiful china, crystal and elegant linens. Can you have it all? Of course! It's just a matter of combining both elements to create a total culinary experience.
For starters, think about the theme you've chosen for your wedding. If it's Afrocentric in nature, then having "soul food" for your reception meal may be a great partner to the general mix. If you are having a more Westernized event, then the addition of this cuisine can be a welcome change from the "ordinary" type of meal most people are accustomed to having at a reception.
Next, sit down with your partner and discuss the foods that you grew up with, the things that made your mouth water whenever you thought about them. Chances are, your guests will enjoy them too! Put your ideas on a list to discuss with your caterer or whomever will be preparing your meal. Remember that you won't be able to please everyone, so have a bit of flexibility in your menu. There are many people who are vegetarian or who are following low-fat/low-salt diets, so you need to be mindful of those situations. Soul food cooking has now taken on the face of more healthy ingredients and preparation, so you can still have the wonderful tastes you are used to without the high levels of fat and sodium.
For a daytime reception, think light and airy. Smoother fabrics for the linen, simple china and silverware along with an understated centerpiece should make a wonderful statement. If you are hosting an evening wedding celebration, a more opulent look is the key. Sheer organzas, elegant velvets and tasteful brocades lead the way for linens that speak refined beauty. Intricate centerpieces and the finest of china and silver will complement your well-dressed tables. Consider having menus created for the dining tables, so your guests can get an advance notice of the delicious fare they are about to enjoy!
And for your dining pleasure, consider this menu to whet your guests' appetites (and yours!) for the "foods from the soul":
- Southern Fried Chicken
- Glazed Country Ham
- Spicy Catfish Fillets
- Seasoned Mixed Greens
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Candied Sweet Potatoes
- Smoky Black-Eyed Peas
- Buttermilk Biscuits served with Honey Butter
- Iced Tea with Mint Sprig Garnish
Your guests will enjoy the wonderful food they've been served and "Soul Food" takes on a new meaning! It's truly cuisine that is served from the heart.
See More: Catering , Ceremony Ideas , Planning , Receptions , Traditions