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From slavery to ‘soul food’, the history of African American cuisine

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soul food
Co-owner of Vivian's Soul Food, Jerome Smallwood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- In honor of Black History Month the African American Museum of Iowa hosted a celebration of 'soul food', examining the history behind the cuisine.

The month of February is dedicated to honoring black history, culture, and its influence in modern-day American.

It's a history that went largely unrecorded until the 1920s until Dr. Carter Woodson started the first-ever 'Black History Week'.

Today, the celebration of Black History continued in Cedar Rapids as the African American Museum of Iowa hosted a celebration of African American Cuisine, better known as 'soul food'.

The event was hosted at Lion's Bridge in Czech Village with 'soul food' cooked by experts at Vivian's Soul Food in Cedar Rapids.

Co-Owner of Vivian's, Jermone Smallwood describes the cuisine of making something from nothing. 'Soul Food' was born out of the era of slavery and often was made using left-over ingredients.

Smallwood said that often meant the food would need to be cooked longer and seasoned differently as it wasn't what most people would consider premium cuts of meat.

The recipes that Smallwood serves have been passed down from generations in his family and the restaurant is named in honor of his mother who taught him how to cook.

The event also featured a guest lecture by Dr. Kelly Sharp, Professor of Africana Studies and History at Luther College.

This is one of the African American Museum of Iowa's traveling pop-up exhibits. Click here to find more programs and events.

To get a taste of 'soul food' for yourself, Vivian's Soul Food is located at 2925 Williams Pkwy SW in Cedar Rapids.

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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