Saturday, November 1, 2008

Food of the Soul: Shepard's Pie

When you start slicing away layers of life crap and get to the essence of who you are and what you are, we all have an innate connection to something or someone. For Tyler, there is a clear connection to the 1910s (give and take a decade). For me, there is some very strong connection to African American women. I don't know what it is - past life, psychic energy, memories from childhood. I'm not sure, but its been there as long as I can remember. I find it comforting. I'm thankful for it and embrace it regardless of what IT is.

That connection has led to a string in my life story that include a visit to Soul Vegetarian East. It is a restaurant of the African Hebrew Israelites in the southside of Chicago. It's in a rough neighborhood, and I remember enjoying that vegan soul food like no other. I've found other "homes" at soul food restaurants in New Orleans and Indianapolis, but they never lived up to that experience at SVE. I even bought their cookbook, but you know how it is - just not the same.

All of this reminiscing is because today I was craving soul food. I've felt a bit scattered and hurried in my life, so naturally my body is saying, stop and eat from your soul. And so tonight I whipped up a good old fashioned shepard's pie. A bit of bison, leftover vegetables, a bit of hoisin (my twist), and topped with taters seasoned with clove and aged cheddar and finished with panko. Not quite the usual, but damn good anyway! And my soul is still for one more day.


Manggy said...

Thanks for sharing, Rob :) This culture is completely alien to me-- I never even realized there was a distinct group recognized as African Hebrew Israelites (it doesn't help being here-- I've never even met a Jewish person before, then African food is very rare here-- never even had any before). I hope someday you'll be able to truly recreate the dishes of your soul! :)

Gfron1 said...

I remember when I ate there taking the L (subway) past Cabrini Greens (now destroyed, formerly most dangerous housing project in the US), and walking with my other pigmentally challenged friends past all sorts of rough looking characters who were probably in shocked to see us walking down the streets, then entering the restaurant and the staff treating us like we were their prodigal children. They had so much love. I know nothing of their religion, but I'll tell you what - their BBQ short ribs (made with seitan) was the best I had ever had including the real meat versions.