Updated: Aug 27, 2022
Soul Food Saturdays combines food and history for a tour that will make you see Alexandria in a whole new light.
Every third Saturday from March to November (excluding August), in front of Carlyle House in Alexandria, VA, the Soul Food Saturdays tour departs in the afternoon. Over two and a half hours meandering through historic Old Town, participants literally taste a bit of history as they learn about the contributions of Black peoples, innovation, and tradition to American history and cuisine.
Video Description: Scenes of Anela on the Soul Food Saturdays tour of Old Town Alexandria, featuring excerpts from interviews with tour organizers Brandon Byrd and Rachel Tracey.
After taking the tour in summer 2020, I was struck by how deftly the experience highlights Black history through food -- a tactic that immerses you in history by drawing on all of your senses.
We stood in the market square, established in the mid-1700s, and munched on cold watermelon as we connected the food in our hands to the practice of enslaving and trafficking Black peoples. Outside of Gadsby's Tavern and the Ice Well, we learned how early American fine dining depended on enslaved labor, from chefs to servers to the enslaved tasked with the dangerous job of hauling ice from the river in the winter. To end our experience, we had an incredible meal and treats at Goodies Frozen Custard & Treats, a Black-owned business located at the Ice House. It was the perfect way to end a day that was informative, but also heavy, as is much of the history of the United States.
Every part of our Soul Food Saturdays experience was thoughtfully curated, drew on rich history, and was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend trying this tour if you visit Alexandria or are in the broader DC area.
Soul Food Saturdays is on the third Saturday every March through November at 2 PM (excluding August). Book your tour here. Tickets for the 2022 season go on sale February 1st.