No self-respecting soul food restaurant would be found without greens on the menu. The Florida Avenue Grill, the oldest soul food restaurant in Washington D.C., has been serving them and other soul food staples for more than seventy years.

A stockpot used to cook collard greens at the Florida Avenue Grill.
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Imar and Tasha Hutchins, Florida Avenue Grill.

Pots like the one above reflect the labor and vast quantities involved. Greens have deep roots in the American South and versions exist throughout the world, including the continent of Africa. Southern African Americans helped spread the recipe to other parts of the United States when they left the South as part of the Great Migrations. What went into this pot may have been greens, water, and other ingredients but what came out for some, were childhood memories of home-cooked meals and for others, flavorful entrées into African American cuisine and history.