‘Soul Food Seasoning’ Must Be Stopped

Centrella - Soul Food SeasoningEthnic seasoning mixes have always been somewhat problematic.

The concepts of Italian seasoning and Mexican seasoning imply that, with the shake of a canister, your food will taste like it came from a different country. And truthfully, these products only make sense because the range of ethnic foods that the average American is likely to cook at home is probably incredibly limited. And in those cases, the pre-fab mixtures probably do a halfway decent job for a very narrow list of food choices. But when I came across “Soul Food Seasoning” at my local grocer the other day, I was overcome with WTF.

This product’s existence makes no sense at its core because soul food isn’t all seasoned the same. The dishes that comprise traditional soul food are highly varied in taste, and subsequently, highly varied in seasoning approaches. To purport that you could even attempt to create a “catch-all” seasoning like this offends my sensibilities.

James Chanel Wright wingsBut then again, this is not a product aimed at my household. In my household, I have a no holds barred, kitchen master as a partner. She knows how to put her whole foot in a dish, make you want to punch her in the mouth, and spontaneously start flying like Patti Labelle. A product like this is purposely meant to mislead the seasoning deficient into thinking they can make soul food now. Hint: if you need to use “soul food seasoning” to make soul food, you shouldn’t be making soul food.

The key ingredient in soul food is soul. Soul food is not a recipe to be replicated again and again. It requires care, frequent tasting, and an innate sense how just how much sugar, salt, garlic, or pepper is enough. You can’t put that in a bottle.

But they tried it anyway.

And the formula they settled on included salt, garlic, paprika, black pepper, and red peppers (amongst other proprietary things).

Centrella - Soul Food Seasoning2

Now we all know that limiting your range of seasonings in this manner is a recipe of sub-par soul food. This mix won’t get your collard greens together. It won’t have your fried chicken poppin. It definitely won’t get your gravy going. And if it can’t handle those quintessential soul food dishes, than what the hell is it good for?

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.

52 Responses

  1. Now this is some foolery! Where did you find this? This is just wrong. I have nothing else to include in this comment. Great writing by the way!

  2. Sometimes, the nonsense just catches your eye. I was literally just walking through the store on a quick shopping trip when I spotted the mess.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Fal Taylor says:

    This is bull. I have a soul food seasoning line in progress. Its just a mix of the standard soul food seasonings so you don’t have to open up 8 bottles of things to get the same affect. Its all blended in one shaker. Now if you need more salt or more garlic you can do that but it is the premise of having the convenience of one bottle. Soul Food is a soulful method of cooking. Don’t knock someone’s hard work while simplifying another’s life. The same goes for Cajun, Italian. Mexican etc. If you can’t cook that is a brilliant way to start. It is all about taste. Feel free to add a little of Soul Food Seasoning and Cajun to get a bigger kick or you can build off my seasoning line by combining the different ethnic seasonings. Layering flavor is an art.
    Chef Fal

  4. D Jackson says:

    Thanks for your comment. And to be honest, a soul food seasoning LINE sounds like a great idea. The problem with just one blanket soul food seasoning is that all soul food should not be seasoned the same. I think it’s misleading to the less knowledgeable. Same goes for Cajun, Italian, and Mexican like you stated.

    But if you have a line of soul food seasoning, people can use specific seasonings for specific foods. That sounds like a great time saver. A lot of people make their own seasoning mixes at home, but the ease of being able to buy it prepackaged would be amazing.

    Good luck on your venture.

  5. chibibarako says:

    The bundled spices are for people whose idea of a spice cabinet is a salt shaker, a pepper shaker and maybe (just maybe) a bottle of tabasco. It’s a cheap shorthand for “these are typical spices used in this culture’s cuisine”. (It can also be a sort of “what am I going to do with a jar of gumbo file when I only need a pinch”?) In this age of the Internet, I prefer to look up a DIY mixture and adjust the seasonings to match my spice cabinet and my palate. Especially when I’m dealing with cultures that I know use more hot pepper or more garlic than I do . . .
    My other big thing is with some of the dollar store spice companies. I have gotten some positively awful “spices” from them; I think they just grabbed leaves out of the mulcher or something. Spend the money to get good spices. If you don’t smell the spice when you open the jar, and you don’t taste it when you put a bit on the tip of your tongue, throw it out.

  6. Rhamona Esquivel says:

    Thank you Chef Fal! I just got online looking for the Clover Valley Dollar Store Soul Food spice to see if I could order it. I bought it in South Georgia and my whole family loves it! Like you said, it a convenient way to get all those spices in one bottle. We moved to Central Pennsylvania and they don’t have a Dollar Store anywhere near here. Even if they did, they probably wouldn’t have it. It goes great on french fries and as seasoning for wings and barbequed chicken. I basically use it as a salt alternative. I use A LOT less salt because the soul food has so much flavor. I love it!! I am hispanic, and I know that you can’t always get authentic ethnic spices or sauces unless you tweek them yourself, but that’s just the way it is. Being from the heart of Georgia, I know what soul food is. You definitely can’t buy it in a store, but I will take what I can get until I get a chance to go visit my good friend and have his grama make us some greens!

  7. Bebe Vee says:

    How is this any different than Lowery’s seasoning salt or Tony Chacheres’? U R being extra. Seasoning salt with these exact same ingredients is probably in your granny’s kitchen and your Aunties too.

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