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Traditional African-American food—sometimes referred to as “soul food”—is diverse and flavorful with origins in Africa, the West Indies, and American southern states.

The idea of what soul food is differs greatly among African Americans.

An apt analogy to keep in mind is that learning about a specific model of car is helped by referencing the operator’s manual, but reading and even memorizing that manual doesn’t replace learning how to drive a car.

The following cultural patterns may represent many African Americans, but do not represent all people in a community.

Dishes such as hoppin’ John (rice, black-eyed peas, and salt pork), gumbos, jambalyas, fried porgies, and potlikker may all be considered soul food.Cajun and Creole cooking, which originated from the French and Spanish in Louisiana, was changed in character and composition by the influence of African cooks.In 1965, African Americans were more than twice as likely as whites to eat a recommended diet of fruit, vegetables, fat, fiber, and calcium.The following guides emphasize information that can be used to stimulate thinking about cultural differences and prompt questions that will help providers understand how their patients identify with and express their cultural backgrounds.These are not fact lists to apply indiscriminately.