1. Soul Food Junkies (2012, Dir. Byron Hurt): Just about any moment from Soul Food Junkies would go well with Thanksgiving dinner. (The sequence at a Jackson State tailgate where the filmmaker is pressured into eating turkey necks from a junk pot springs to mind.) In his personal documentary about soul food, supported by NBPC, filmmaker Byron Hurt not only covers every dish from Grandma’s repertoire, but places them in historical context and examines them as centerpieces of black American culture. Be warned, though: this film does not shy away from the health concerns associated with a “soul-food junkie” diet.
2. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (1998, Dir. Michael Apted) — Screenplay by Walter Mosley — Diner Scene: If you think a black-owned diner is an unusual setting for a movie scene, prepare for an even more unusual protagonist. Laurence Fishburne is crusty ex-con Socrates Fortlow in this dramatic confrontation (over three flavors of pie) from Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned — adapted by Walter Mosley from his novel. (R&B fans, watch for Natalie Cole as the proprietor.)
3. Mississippi Masala (1991, Dir. Mira Nair) — BBQ sequence: “Masala” — the term multicultural character Meena uses to describe herself — refers to a mixture of spices used commonly in Indian cuisine. “Oh,” teases her boyfriend (played by a young Denzel), “so you hot and spicy, huh?” Missisippi Masala itself is a “hot and spicy” take on the old Romeo-and-Juliet scenario — and, during a memorable barbecue scene, Meena meets the all-black family of her love interest, Demetrius, for the first time.
4. Soul Food (1997, Dir. George Tillman, Jr.): Looking for a little #ThrowbackThursday this Thanksgiving? Nia Long, Vanessa Williams, and Viveca Fox still had their baby faces in George Tillman’s classic 1997 family dramedy. Tension, laughter and sibling rivalry abound — and (as the title promises) there’s no shortage of delicious soul food imagery either.
5. Daughters of the Dust (1991, Dir. Julie Dash) — food preparation sequence: It’s not a predictable choice for a “food moment” shortlist, but Daughters of the Dust addresses Sea Island cuisine in a subtle, unique fashion. The Peazant family women collaborate to serve a seafood feast al fresco — and the old and young gather to eat, laugh and discuss their destiny. Food Studies professor Fabio Parasecoli even wrote a Huffington Post article about the significance of this feast sequence back in 2012.