The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South

A renowned culinary historian offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.

From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia.

As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

Title:The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
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  • I heard Michael Twitty speak on a panel a few years ago, at an event on interpreting African-American history today. Twitty, a gay black Jewish man who passionately talked about culinary history, spar...

  • I had a complicated experience reading this book. On the whole, it rates 4* for the important and fascinating information on the history of enslavement in America, the culinary history of Southern foo...

  • I've been following Twitty's blog, Afroculinaria, ever since I heard an interview with him on local Washington, DC radio a few years ago. He is a really interesting guy--and just reading his recipes w...

  • This was a hard one, review to come....

  • Michael Twitty has penned a sweeping memoir enriched with interleaved stories of the African Slave experience. As a culinary historian who delves into the African contribution to American cooking and ...

  • Twitty provides a fascinating look into how African cooking during the Slave Trade influenced the modern day and historic foods we associate with Southern cooking today, and how climate, cash crops, a...

  • The Cooking Gene goes on our must read list - no wonder this book is Number 1 on Amazon releases right now. Read our full review here!https://booktrib.com/2017/07/amazon-c......

  • I heard about this book on a podcast (Bite, I think?) and it sounded fascinating and educational so I picked it up and started reading it pretty quickly. The book turned out to be both what I thought ...

  • This is a troubling book is many ways. Needless to say the subject of slavery itself is a difficult one. While Twitty frames his entire book in terms of himself and his family/ancestors, it's not hard...

  • The Cooking Gene is an astonishingly beautiful book: heartfelt and raw, funny and sad, witty and profound. It is actually one of the only books I've ever given as a gift. This is not a cookbook per se...

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