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

by Michael W. Twitty

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

Overview

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty

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 He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia.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.

Illustrations by Stephen Crotts

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Product Details
ISBN-13:
9780062379290
9780062379290
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/01/2017
Pages:
464
464
Sales rank:
15,279
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)
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About the Author

About the Author

Michael W. Twitty is a noted culinary and cultural historian and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. He has been honored by FirstWeFeast.com as one of the twenty greatest food bloggers of all time, and named one of the “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living and one of the “Five Cheftavists to Watch” by TakePart.com. Twitty has appeared throughout the media, including on NPR’s The Splendid Table, and has given more than 250 talks in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in Ebony, the Guardian, and on NPR.org. He is also a Smith fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a TED fellow and speaker, and the first Revolutionary in Residence at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Twitty lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Family Tree viii

Preface: The Old South xi

Chapter 1 No More Whistling Walk for Me 1

Chapter 2 Hating My Soul 25

Chapter 3 Mise en Place 43

Chapter 4 Mishpocheh 65

Chapter 5 Missing Pieces 81

Chapter 6 No Nigger Blood 91

Chapter 7 "White Man in the Woodpile" 99

Chapter 8 0.01 Percent 119

Chapter 9 Sweet Tooth 141

Chapter 10 Mothers of Slaves 161

Chapter 11 Alma Mater 199

Chapter 12 Chesapeake Gold 219

Chapter 13 The Queen 239

Chapter 14 Adam in the Garden 265

Chapter 15 Shake Dem 'Simmons Down 283

Chapter 16 All Creatures of Our G-d and Kind 297

Chapter 17 The Devil's Half Acre 321

Chapter 18 "The King's Cuisine" 337

Chapter 19 Crossroads 365

Chapter 20 The Old Country 381

Chapter 21 Sankofa 401

Author's Note 417

Selected Bibliography 423

Acknowledgments 439

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Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“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.”

Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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    The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
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    The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South
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    Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
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