When it comes to soul food, there is nothing quite as delicious or unique that can compare. The different blend of ingredients and the care that has gone into every single recipe combined to create a dance of flavors in your mouth. Despite all of the amazing facts about soul food that could be listed endlessly, however, there are a few less flattering myths that have become a common perception about the traditional cuisine which deserve to be debunked. Keep reading if you want to find out common misconceptions about soul food that don’t deserve a second thought.

Soul Food is the same as Southern Food:

All too often, when people talk about soul food they frequently mix it up with traditional southern food, when the truth is they couldn’t be more different. Soul food is based on the classic dishes made hundreds of years ago, with recipes passed down through generations. Where standard southern food is more fried chicken, pies and cobblers among other dishes, soul food contains much more variety both in types of meat and the amount of vegetables used. Traditional soul food can feature anything from chicken to chitlins, oxtails and seasoned pork along with a variety of vegetables that often make up a bulk of the dish.

Chicken & Waffles Started in Harlem:

There is a very famous rumor that chicken and waffles, which has become a staple of the soul food variety, started in Harlem, NY back in the 1920’s. The rumor was that people leaving jazz clubs at 2AM would be hungry, but it was too late for dinner and too early for breakfast, they’d be unsure what to eat. However, while this is a very fun story and is true that the dish gained a lot of popularity in that area, chicken and waffles has actually been around since the 1700’s. Originally coming over to America through the tradition of German immigrants, it became a staple in what is now known as the Pennsylvania Deutsch community. Regardless of how the dish started, there is a fairly good chance we all equally appreciate just how amazing it is.

Chitlins Started as Unwanted Food/Leftovers:

Where chicken and waffles is one of the most notable soul food dishes around, chitlins is probably one of the less understood. While a majority of people that have grown up with the traditional food would have no confusion at all about the dish, those that may be just dipping their toes into the soul food dining world might need a bit of education. Chitlins are basically the intestines of a few different animals, seasoned in a specific way and served with traditional soul food sides. The consensus on this specific meal is that you either love it or you hate it, which is understandable. The notion that chitlins were made from leftover scraps, however is just not true. Originally starting in France and other parts of Europe, chitlins (or chitterlings according to Europeans) were actually a delicacy, only after the Emancipation in the United States did chitterlings lose their prestige and become relegated to a more obscure place on the soul food palette.

Soul Food is Unhealthy:

A lot of people correlate a classic plate of soul food with an unhealthy meal that will need to be worked off at the gym the next day, but that is not the case. When it comes to traditional soul food dishes, they can actually be surprisingly healthy. Originally, the more high calorie ingredients like sugar and buttermilk were less available, which means the meals would be prepared using simpler ingredients and flavors would mostly come from the meat. With a combination of spices, natural fats from the meat and the many vegetables, a plate of soul food is actually very healthy if done right.


Soul food is truly one of a kind when it comes to both the flavor and the experience it offers. There is no other traditional food quite like it and now that these pesky myths have been put in their place, the team over at Mama Sheila’s House of Soul hope you will swing by our traditional restaurant for your next meal!