Photo Credit: Matt Dutile
African-American Soul Food Gaining Popularity In Paris, Here's Why
There’s a new food trend that you may see in Paris that closely resembles your grandma’s or uncle’s kitchen, as African American soul food is quickly on the rise.
Comforting southern recipes such as chicken and waffles, which have been highlighted on Netflix’s four-part docuseries, High on the Hog, have made their way to France thanks to restaurants such as Gumbo Yaya, Mama Jackson, Big Joe Soul Food Corner, and Juicy Pop Restaurant Soul Food & Comedy Jam.
What’s interesting about High on the Hog is that it traces the roots of African American food in Africa as the series host, Stephen Satterfield, starts his exploration journey in Benin.
At one point, Satterfield is standing at the Gate of No Return in Ouidah, Benin during his journey, where enslaved Africans were forced onto boats for the trans-Atlantic journey. The series starts out this way to make the connection that in order to understand Black food in America, you have to look deeper into where Black people in America descended, which is primarily West and Central African countries, including Benin.
What makes Black American cuisine in France interesting is that it tells the stories of the ancestors through their descendants on where they come from, where they’ve gone, and where they’re headed through food.
Take Gumbo Yaya for example. The restaurant, created by Lionel Chauvel-Maga, is a love letter to America’s south and the owners’ Benin roots.
Travel Noire interviewed Maga back in 2018 when he told us how that he spent his summers with his aunties in Macon, Georgia.
“I would visit them during the summers and on Sunday mornings we would eat chicken and waffles,” he told us. “I want people here in Paris to experience the Sunday mornings I had in Georgia.”
There are more restaurants popping up, including Mama Jackson, where you will find sweet potato croquettes, New Soul Food -Le Maquis, Wings & Chill, which takes a spin on fried chicken culture, Big Joe Soul Food Corner, and Juicy Pop Restaurant Soul Food & Comedy Jam, where you can find a New Orleans style Po’ Boy.
American-style Soul food in France is on the rise in France and looks like a new tradition that’s here to stay.