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St. Louis is home to many soul food spots – purveyors of Mother’s Fish, Gourmet Soul share secrets

Matt Sorrell, Lavinia McCoy and Sean Morris discussed soul food on St. Louis on the Air.
Alex Heuer | St. Louis Public Radio
Matt Sorrell, Lavinia McCoy and Sean Morris discussed soul food on St. Louis on the Air.

St. Louis is home to so many soul food restaurants, it is hard to get an accurate count of them all. On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, contributor Steve Potter delved into the world of soul food from an outsider’s perspective. What comprises the food type? And what should you know about ordering?

For the uninitiated, you may only know the fried varieties of soul food, but as Sauce Magazine’s Staff Writer Matt Sorrell puts it, there’s way more to the story. He wrote extensively about the subject in Sauce Magazine’s most recent issue.

“Some of the food is fried, but that is not the entire tradition,” he said. “In fact, a lot of traditions are very veggie-centric. There’s a lot of greens, sweet potatoes … there’s a lot of ingredients like that. Starting out, there was not a lot of meat to be had, meat was considered a luxury, so a lot of dishes might be considered vegetarian or even vegan by today’s standards.”

Sorrell said soul food is considered a “subgenre” of southern food or comfort food.

“It is an African-American tradition that was produced by slaves who took their traditions from Africa and dealt with ingredients they had to in America,” Sorrell said.

Joining the program to discuss the history of soul food and its incarnation today were two restaurant purveyors: Lavinia McCoy, of Gourmet Soul, and Sean Morris, of Mother’s Fish. Their two restaurants provide different takes on the genre.

“I like to think that soul food is food as delicious as the soul can consume,” McCoy said. “It is comfort food, it is based on preparation, but it is good food. … We’re cooking strictly out of tradition, what we had in the cupboards and what we learned from our families.”

Shrimp ‘n grits, chitterlings and collard greens are three dishes you can find in most restaurants. Morris said his favorite dish served at his restaurant is the catfish filet. McCoy said shrimp ‘n grits is her favorite.

Listen to the full discussion here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.
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