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The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 August 2017

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,096 ratings

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Review

"Fascinating.... A valuable addition to culinary and Old South historiography with lip-smacking period recipes."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Fascinating."--New York Times Book Review

"Should there ever be a competition to determine the most interesting man in the world, Michael W. Twitty would have to be considered a serious contender."--Washington Post

"Twitty ably joins past and present, puzzling out culinary mysteries along the way... An exemplary, inviting exploration and an inspiration for cooks and genealogists alike."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Twitty has accomplished something remarkable with The Cooking Gene... It's a book to save, reread, and share until everyone you know has a working understanding of the human stories and pain behind some of America's most foundational and historically significant foods."--Christian Science Monitor

"Slavery made the world of our ancestors incredibly remote to us. Thankfully, the work of Michael W. Twitty helps restore our awareness of their struggles and successes bite by bite, giving us a true taste of the past."--Dr. Henry Louis Gates, host of PBS' Many Rivers to Cross and Finding Your Roots

"Written in Michael W. Twitty's no-nonsense style and interlaced with moments of levity, The Cooking Gene is gritty, compelling, and enlightening - a mix of personal narrative and the history of race, politics, economics and enslavement that will broaden notions of African-American culinary identity."--Toni Tipton-Martin, James Beard Award-winning author of The Jemima Code

From the Back Cover

Winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation's Book Of The Year Award!

Culinary historian Michael W. Twitty brings a fresh perspective to 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 from 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 touchpoints in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, 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.

Twitty travels from the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields to tell of the struggles his family faced and how food enabled his ancestors' survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and visits Civil War battlefields in Virginia, synagogues in Alabama, and 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 South's past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep--the power of food to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.


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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Amistad Press; Illustrated edition (1 August 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 464 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062379291
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062379290
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 4.32 x 15.24 x 22.86 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,096 ratings

About the author

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Michael W. Twitty is a culinary and cultural historian and the creator of www.Afroculinaria.com, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacy. He has been honored by the website First We Feast (www.firstwefeast.com) as one of twenty greatest food bloggers of all time, and named one of “Fifty People Changing the South” by Southern Living. He’s also been honored as one of the “Five Cheftavists to Watch” by TakePart.Com. Twitty has appeared on NPR’s The Splendid Table and Morning Edition and has written for the Guardian, Ebony, Local Palate, and the Washington Post. He’s given over 300 talks in the U.S. and abroad, including audiences at the Smithsonian, Yale University, The Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery in England, and the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival. He was a 2014 Smith Symposium Fellow of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a 2016 TED fellow and speaker, and was recently honored by Taste Talks with their first Culinary Pioneer Award. Twitty’s blog, Afrioculinaria was honored with both the readers’ and editors’ choice awards from Saveur for the best food and culture blog. Twitty is also a Judaics teacher and writes on Jewish cultural issues. He is the first Revolutionary in Residence at Colonial Williamsburg.

Favorite Southern foods: barbecue (beef ribs though not necessarily traditional---all the noms), a decent and proper biscuit, red rice, collard greens--no vinegar!, buttermilk pie, okra soup, country captain, sweet potatoes, etoufee, gumbo, jambalaya.

Diva of Choice: Julia Sugarbaker from "Designing Women" or Whitley Gilbert from "A Different World"

Favorite Expression: Bless yo' heart.

Person Likely to Play Me in a Movie: I really want Idris Elba, but I'm getting Anthony Anderson.

If I had Kids I would name them: (All girls) Portico, Verandah and Lanai... I always thought Zephyr would be a cool name for a son.

Nicknames: The Chocolate Chosen TM, Mr. Kosher Soul

Influences: August Wilson, James Baldwin, Marlon Riggs, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Roy Lichenstein, Romare Bearden, Joseph Campbell, Robert Graves, Zora Neale Hurston.

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Freyalyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2017
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H.ope
5.0 out of 5 stars History on a plate
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 February 2020
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AS
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 May 2020
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Erin E. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars A great American book
Reviewed in Canada on 3 September 2017
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Al Pilato
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an insightful book that takes you on a journey and allows you to taste along the way.
Reviewed in Canada on 2 January 2019
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One person found this helpful
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