The Story Behind Mert's Soul Rolls
BEFORE JAMES BAZZELLE opened Mert’s Heart and Soul in 1998, he traveled to New York for research. There, he ate an egg roll-style dish with rice and collards. “I thought, ‘I could do that right there myself,’” Bazzelle says. Shortly after opening Mert’s, he put soul rolls on the menu. For his version, Bazzelle cooks collards with olive oil and adobo, and fries chicken. He combines the collards and chicken with black-eyed peas and rice, stuffs the filling into an egg roll, and fries it. The result is a crispy, cross-cultural combination of flavors, textures, and the right amount of soul.