The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year | 2018 James Beard Foundation Book AwardWinner inWriting | Nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction | #75 on The Root100 2018
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...more
The author, from a black Christian family in the deep South decided at 6 he was Jewish. Nearly 20 years later he became an Orthodox Jew as well as a food historian and a lecturer and cook on a plantation to tour groups who wanted to see not only the where and what of ...more
"The Cooking Gene" is a ...more
"This taste in my mouth is the flavor of black folks taking their country back."
Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian who has taken a deep look at southern cuisine through many lenses, but always coming back to his identity as a black (but not only black), gay, Jewish man. He is known to some because of a piece he wrote a few years ago, An Open Letter to Paula Deen, ...more
Some people are sangers, not singers. Some people cook, and others, like my father says, can burn: Twitty is clearly in the latter group. As someone who only burns water (but washes a mean dish), I wasn’t sure ...more
A basic premise of the book is that black Americans need to "reclaim" southern cuisine. I don't really have a dog in that fight (which seems to be mostly in culinary circles anyway), I just like to eat the food! I'm white, but I've always assumed that Southern food belonged to ...more
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 to extrapolate to the larger picture. If you didn't already know how brutal/inhumane/unacceptable/etc. slavery was, there's enough here to drive it home for you.
But of course the focus is supposed to be African American culinary history and I have a hard time seeing how this book does justice to ...more
My mother was born a Southerner (white) and I recall our family treks from Wisconsin to Virginia which was very much moving from one culture (heavily German/Scandinavian) to a foreign one. The food my ...more
Sometimes drifting into a scholarly voice Michael Twitty never loses sight of the soul rending truth of ...more
It's a lot, is what this book is.
And it took me a long time to ...more
The premise of the book is simple enough - a black man wants to learn more about his family history via the food they eat, along with how that has been affected by social, political, and economic issues throughout the last ...more
He certainly added to my understanding of culinary history, especially in the American south and Africa, but also in northern Europe and elsewhere. He gave me a whole new slant on what the transition of southern ...more
And he bounces from topic to ...more
Unlike the author, I can't trace any amazing connection between the entire history of the United States and the foodways of his enslaved ancestors ... all the way back to Africa. That's just what Michael W. Twitty has done in this book, which is part memoir, part sociology text, and part cookery book.
In between familial ...more