When I sit down to enjoy my favorite foods; the taste is nothing short of heavenly. With the first taste, my eyes close, my head sways from side to side and I let out a resounding Hmmmm of enjoyment.
Soul food is one of many cuisines I enjoy; it’s also what I grew up on. Some dishes I love, and others I don’t care for. As a young girl I remember the first time I walked in the kitchen and saw a pig’s foot hanging out of a pot of boiling water on my mom’s stove; it was the only time I turned around and walked back out of the house at dinner time. That was just fine for my little sister, “More for me” she say.
As I got older, I realized that home cooked meals, (which only sometimes included pig’s feet) were a labor of love, especially with Sunday dinners. I grew to appreciate the varied selections my mother and grandmothers prepared; kale, mustard- greens, okra, fried and baked chicken, turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, yams, macaroni and cheese, corn bread, black-eyed peas, red beans and rice, string beans, homemade biscuits, fried green tomatoes and much, much more . . . this was good southern cooking, and the best part? Much of the food was straight from our own farm and garden.
According to Wikipedia, the term ‘Soul Food’ was created in the 1960s. The expression may be fairly new, but the cooking style goes back more than 200 years. I’m not a nutritionist and frankly speaking, not much of a soul food cook; however, I believe that all good tasting food isn’t necessarily unhealthy . . . especially IF eaten in moderation. Having said that, pork is no longer a part of my diet, and over the years I’ve cut back on salty foods.
When I’m not at home, deciding where to eat depends on choices; the more the better. The great thing about soul food restaurants is the wide variety of selections; so when a friend suggested ‘Ann’s Soul Food, Wings & Things’ I was really excited to go. I had just finished a photo shoot in Stafford, after which we headed down Route 1 to find Ann’s.
We pulled up to a little white house that looked more like a home than restaurant. When I stepped inside, it was Deja Vu, the setting took me back to the days when Saturday dinners were sold in the church basement by the Women’s Auxiliary Club. I had a smile on my face as I walked toward the kitchen; the aroma of fried wings, fish, turkey, and baked goods fill my nose; when I saw a table spread of white cake, chocolate cake, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie, my eyes instantly became bigger than my stomach. A couple in front of me had already ordered, then decided they had to add a side of cornbread with their meal.
“What can I get for you,” a woman behind the counter asked. I guess I must have hesitated a second too long, because she handed me a menu, and said, “Take your time sweetie.” The glaze over look in my eye must have been the tell-tale sign I hadn’t been there before.
It looked like a family run business; a man and woman took orders, another younger man came in, Ann told him to wash his hands, and then motioned him towards the kitchen. Greeting everyone who came in the door, Ann was easy to spot; a beautiful brown skinned older woman, with salt and pepper hair pulled up in a bun. Her glasses sat low on her nose, which made her look more like a school teacher. When she spoke, her voice was calm and patience. “Have you been help?” she asked. “Yes, I just can’t make up my mind,” I told her. Ann just smiled and nodded her head, like she hears this from new patrons frequently.
Looking over the menu, I had tough choices to make. Let’s see . . . fish, chicken wings, a turkey dinner with cornbread stuffing, cabbage, greens, baked beans, potato salad, seasoned fries, sweet potato pie . . . ( yes, ribs and chitterlings were on the menu too!) finally decided on a fish sandwich and slice of cake. I mean, I could always come back until I tried everything I wanted on the menu!
The price was reasonable, and Ann served up healthy portions. When I took my first bite, you guessed it . . .I close my eyes, swayed my head side to side, and let out a resounding Hmmmmmmmm, Hmmm, Hmmmm!
The fish was tender, lightly seasoned and had just the right amount of breading . . . And the cake! OMG, ‘make you wanna slap your momma!’ (Just kidding mom) Translation: It was really, really good!
I didn’t have to taste everything on the menu to see Ann was a master chef; the steady flow of people coming in the door made it obvious. When you’re in the mood for some good old fashion soul food, I highly recommend ‘Ann’s Soul Food, Wings & Things,’ the restaurant is right off Route 1 in Stafford, Virginia, 3349 Jefferson Davis Highway.
Anne’s Soul Food; Wings and Things
3349 Jefferson Davis Highway