Cara Reedy is an Executive Assistant at CNN. She previously wrote for Eatocracy on being a small cook in a big kitchen.
I grew up in St. Louis, MO which is considered the Midwest, but has some clear southern leanings. Barbecue and fried chicken were always around. One of my favorite meals as a child was a one-pot meal consisting of potatoes, green beans, carrots and cabbage boiled with a ham hock. My parents served it with a fresh batch of corn bread to soak up the juices - often called pot liquor or potlikker.
I never really thought anything about this meal other than I liked it. When you're a kid, you generally don't analyze your food that deeply. It’s either like or can’t stand. Flash forward to adulthood, when I started doing some personal research on the African American slave diet. I suddenly realized that what my parents were serving was the original soul food.
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It was the hot dogs that broke down religious barriers.
Megachurch pastor Phil Hotsenpiller and his wife, Tammy, invited their Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist neighbors over to their Southern California home for an interfaith, multicultural meal.
But not just any meal: This one was being filmed as a pilot for a reality TV show based on Tammy Hotsenpiller’s book, “Taste of Humanity" – which she described as an attempt to “bring cultures together through cuisine.”
“I had everyone bring something from their country,” Tammy Hotsenpiller recalled, “and I thought, ‘Well what is America known for? I mean, apple pie and hot dogs.’ So I brought apple pie and hot dogs. We did a hot dog bar with all the condiments and everything else."
Their neighbors hadn’t gotten together in 20 years.
“And the first thing [our guests] asked was, ‘Was it kosher? Are they beef? Are they pork?’
"So it gave us an opportunity to talk about their conviction and why they don’t eat pork and what that means, and it really opened up some great opportunities of dialogue and conversation – just really over cuisine – all of us sitting down and talking about what our beliefs are."
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