In formal culinary terms, soul food can be described as African-American cuisine of the deep South that blends traditions of West Africa, West Europe and the Americas.
Retired Assistant Tampa Police Chief Tina Wright, who grew up in and later patrolled Tampa’s Black neighborhoods, has her own definition.
“Soul food is love,” Wright says. “Soul food is joy. Soul food is laughter. Soul food brings families and friends together. And together, we’re there to share stories, make memories and have legacies. That’s what soul food is to us.”
Wright offered that definition as the City of Tampa unveils the next initiative in its Tampa Soulwalk art and heritage trail project- an upcoming Soulwalk Community Cookbook that will feature recipes, stories and memories shared by the community.
Wright lived for a time in the former Central Park Village public housing complex, which itself stood on the former site of the once thriving Central Avenue Business District that is a focal point of the Soulwalk trail. Now, she’s part of a community team that will spearhead the cookbook project, which the city unveiled on September 25th with an event in the kitchen theatre of the Epicurean Hotel in Hyde Park.
Sherri Brown, Tina Wright and Ida Walker at the September 25th kick-off event for the Soulwalk Community Cookbook.
“(It’s) a book that is going to have history, a book that is going to have great recipes, a book that is going to bring together the histories of families and all of the things that we do surrounding our food heritage,” Wright says.
The city and its community partners are off to a strong start gathering recipes. Khalilaa McDuffie, a partner in 7th + Grove, the upscale southern restaurant and lounge in Ybor City, and Corey Miller with Big John’s Alabama BBQ in East Tampa, are among the chefs who will contribute recipes. McDuffie says 7th + Grove’s contributions will include oxtail hummus. Miller says Big John’s addition will be the open pit barbecue for which it’s known.
McDuffie and Miller, both Tampa natives, say they’re impressed by the way the Soulwalk trail and the upcoming cookbook keep Tampa’s history and culture alive and share with the larger community and out-of-town visitors.
The City of Tampa is now putting out a call for community members to share recipes and memories for the Soulwalk Community Cookbook. The current deadline to submit recipes is December 1st.
For more information on Tampa Soulwalk and an online form to contribute recipes, go to Tampa Soulwalk.
For prior coverage of Tampa Soulwak, go to Tampa Soulwalk celebrates Black contributions to city’s history and culture.
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