What Our Ancestors Ate for the Holidays

Today's Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are just a taste of how African Americans used to eat.

(Continued from Page 1)

Spoonbread & Strawberry Wine: Recipes and Reminiscences of a Family by sisters Norma Jean and Carole Darden offers oral history and recipes in chronicling African-American life and culture. Their grandmother's traditions trickled down. She lived on a dairy farm and wanted milk and cream in the family's dishes. A favorite dish was painted Christmas cookies, made with rose water and orange-flower water.

This doesn't mean that soul food this season is antithetical to the black food experience; it's just not the only one.

Sorensen will be preparing Thanksgiving dinner for her family this week. She's been cooking since age 9. Her dinner table will have turkey with corn bread dressing on the side, many quarts of giblet gravy, whole cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. But in homage to her stepfather -- who hailed from Algiers, La. -- she'll make smoked oysters for an appetizer, corn and peas as a side dish. And finally, candied yams in a cast-iron pot -- without marshmallows. Just like he taught her.

Natalie Y. Moore is a reporter for WBEZ-Chicago. Follow her on Twitter.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.