Soul food dishes include vegetable sides such as collard greens, okra and tomatoes. Meat dishes include fried chicken and ox tails with gravy. Starchy dishes such as black-eyed peas and rice, buttered or cheesy grits, biscuits and cornbread are also popular.
The term "soul food" was first used during the Civil Rights era of the 1960s to describe dishes created by descendants of African slaves living in the South with readily available ingredients, says About.com. Soul food dishes are typically spicier than other Southern dishes. Vegetable and meat dishes such as greens, okra, black-eyed peas and ox tails are simmered with ham hocks or bacon and seasoned with salt and a generous amount of red pepper. Rice, cornbread or biscuits usually accompany main meals. Grits and biscuits are served with shrimp or sausage gravy at breakfast.