Home Kitchen

"A pinch of this" et a "Pinch of that" – Traditional terms used in southern cuisine

Southern cooking is all about adding spices and seasonings to your food. When I say spices, I don’t mean hot and spicy, I simply mean how you use spices in cooking to bring out the traditional flavors in your dishes. This southern cooking method really began when African American slaves prepared their food many years ago. They used terms like “a pinch of this” and “a pinch of that” to refer to cooking spices and seasonings for their food.

Why were these terms used?

These terms were used because at the time there were no measuring devices, cookbooks, or cooking classes to learn from; they had to guess their measurements and could only trust each other to remember the main ingredients. So they created terms that made it easier for them to season the food. They also developed ways to tell when food was baked by saying “bake until golden brown.” Today, this cooking method is still popular in many southern kitchens.

Sometimes adding “a pinch of this” and “a pinch of that” may not be enough seasoning for your dish, just remember to always add spices according to your taste and what complements the dish you are preparing.

Anyone who makes soul and southern food knows that the recipes are just a base to start with. The amount of cooking seasonings and spices a recipe requires may be more or less to your liking. The important thing about this method is that you control the amount of spices you use. Only you can determine how much seasoning to add for a particular recipe.

Because spices are the foundation of Southern cooking, you will find cooking terms, “a pinch of this” and “a pinch of that” throughout my new cookbook, Soul Food Lovers’. The recipes in the cookbook also allow you to use your discretion when adding spices to your food.

Today, many Southerners still cook over the counter, simply remembering the main ingredients and adding seasonings to their liking. So, go ahead and add “a pinch of this” and “a pinch of that” to bring out the true flavors of your southern recipes.

To learn more about cooking spices and better understand how to use them, check out these resources:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *