I asked Dudley what foods she felt had to be served. First and foremost, watermelon, she said. She’s served it in one form or another—including pickled rind—in every soul food dinner she’s hosted. “So many black people have told me they’re afraid to eat watermelon in front of white people,” said Dudley, “and we can’t be afraid.”
The point of the dinner is not just food, but the meanings and rituals of gathering at the table. Japanese themed pottery was used because "it’s simply valuing food at such a high level that you’re making a utensil to honor it," according to Gates. That was in keeping with the theme of this dinner, The Art of Soul; each of the four dinners has its own theme, including The History of Soul, The Politics of Soul and The Community of Soul. Could these dinners lead to a soul food business that tried to have the same level of ritual and community? That thought is on the mind of Michael Kornick at the end. Perhaps this short series of dinners will lead to something longer-lasting.
Ritual soul food dinner [WBEZ]