Celebrate National Soul Food Month with Mama Dip

council_mama1I once worked at a restaurant that served fried chicken livers in a martini glass with some fancy sauce drizzled over the top in a perfect zig-zag pattern. Soul food sure isn’t what it used to be. This unique genre of food, always comforting and often greasy, should never be served in stemware.

Soul food is about making the most with what you have, and it was with this mentality that many formally discarded–or at least overlooked–vegetables and meats became good eats. Though opossum, squirrel, and rabbit were once staples of this diet, today soul food is known for its fried chicken, fried okra, country ham, and other delicious dishes.

If you’re looking for the best of the best in southern cooking, look no further than Mama Dip’s, a famed Chapel Hill eatery hailed by Dean Smith: “Chapel Hill wouldn’t be the Southern Part of Heaven without her.” “Her,” of course, being Mama Dip herself: Mildred Council, founder, proprietor. And UNC Press author.

Mama Dip’s Kitchen features over 250 recipes that range from molasses bread to chitlins to my personal favorite, mud pie. In addition to kitchen instruction and appetizing anecdotes, readers are invited to take a personal look at Mama Dip’s long culinary career. In her second book, Mama Dip’s Family Cookbook, Council presents more than 300 new recipes with a special section of dishes to enjoy at celebrations: potato salad, shrimp ball, smoked oyster log, and others.

June is National Soul Food Month, so see what you have in your pantry, take a little advice from Mama Dip, and get ready for some seriously good eating.