Logan Frances

Designer, writer,


when West Africans were forcibly positioned for labor in the american south, their diets  changed to a skimpy ration of salt pork, cornmeal, rice, lard, molasses, and greens  (collard, mustard). these foods, low in nutritional value and often the scraps of the  plantation, were transformed by those same Africans into what is now given the  misnomer “southern food.” the shining feature in this cuisine being: fat. 

because of this history, fat is inextricably tied to the history of america’s cuisine as  much as turkey and apple pie, yet it is also as Black as Cookouts and Sunday Dinner at  the main table. for me, a Louisiana native, fat is an absolute essential for food. fat is the  soft, flabby skin under my grandmother’s arms, who taught me to wait for butter to  soften before I cream it with sugar for cinnamon roll dough. it is my father boiling ham  hocks into red beans, and my mother adding buttermilk to Jiffy cornbread mix and  handmade biscuits. it is thick cut bacon and eggs on grits, which have been simmered  with heavy whipping cream and butter; it is raw chicken wings fried in a hot bath of  canola oil. it can season, it can cream, and it can bake.

how fat is perceived, especially in “southern food,” has all to do with who cooks with it  — the difference returning back to race. because the Africans, who had to adapt their  own palates to the food they were forced to eat, used fat (lard, pork, oil) to do this. and  generations later, the descendants of these same people are boxed into the trope of  being unhealthy and malnourished, while also creating some of the defining dishes of  american cuisine.