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The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African…

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in… (2017)

by Michael W. Twitty

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319957,203 (4.34)12
"A memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces the paths of the author's ancestors (black and white) through the crucible of slavery to show its effects on our food today"--
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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
African American history, anthropology, and food... written by a Black chef and scholar. Lengthy but worth it. ( )
  testingwithfire | May 2, 2020 |
an enlightening exploration of the history of African-American culinary history--and therefore all of American history--and his trips to the Old Country (Ireland!), down to Electric Avenue, and to see the Akan Drum were enlightening, too. ( )
  ThomasPluck | Apr 27, 2020 |
As someone who researches food security and community development, especially the impact in low-income communities of color, I was looking forward to hearing of Twitty's journey. I was not disappointed.

The book, at times, seems to be wandering from theme to theme, sometimes repeating in one chapter what had been covered previously in a prior section. But once I completed the entire work, it became clear that he was taking us, as reader, along the multitude of paths that he himself experienced. His story, like those of so many, is not a linear one. Taken as a whole, it is in the twists and turns the that nuanced story is revealed.

This is truly his individual story, but there are lessons for us all contained in the pages. I learned more about the complex interaction between cultures and cuisine than in anything else I've read in a while. ( )
  jdoshna | Mar 29, 2020 |
This was a really incredible look at African American historic foodways, with a really careful look at specificity of geography and time. Twitty manages to draw all of these threads together without it feeling confusing very often, though sometimes the sea of names--which are necessary to both give credit to those from whom he's drawing his work, as well as his own genealogy and those of others--gets a little confusing, and I might have been better equipped to deal with if I had not tried to read this whole book in like four days. I will say that as someone who comes at genealogy testing from a perspective of Native people trying to keep a grasp on their sovereignty, some of the stuff on DNA testing rubbed me the wrong way--not that Twitty is guilty of the levels of like genealogy crimes as someone like Elizabeth Warren, but it was uncomfortable to see him talk about it without mentioning those issues.

But those parts of it regardless, this is definitely a powerful and important read, and I really recommend it to people who want to think about food more critically, and consider its history alongside justice. ( )
  aijmiller | Oct 5, 2019 |
"This is the best book I’ve read in several years. It won a James Beard Award. But it’s not really a cookbook, but a deep, deep dive into how the past lives in the present, both in his personal history and in the history of African-American foodways. Twitty is among other things an interpreter at Southern slave plantation tours, where he cooks the food of his ancestors, both slave and free, African-American and African. As he delves deeper and deeper into his personal history, though DNA testing and historical documents, he uncovers more and more layers, including white ancestors (as is not uncommon). He meets relatives he didn’t know he had both at home and in far-off places, including Sierra Leone and Liverpool, and finds out he is descended from passengers on the last slave ship to America, the Clotilda (which was recently uncovered). It’s an astonishing journey, and Twitty is a riveting presence that demands to be heard. And you may be surprised at how many of American food traditions have African (or indigenous) roots.

If I haven’t convinced you yet to read his book, you should at least read his riposte to the recent screenshots of white people leaving bad reviews of plantation tours because they talked about slavery instead of Gone With The Wind nonsense: https://afroculinaria.com/2019/08/09/dear-disgruntled-white-plantation-visitors-..." - Steve Thornton, Solid Ground ( )
  SolidGroundARILIB | Aug 20, 2019 |
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The disruption of the black family, the interruption of an important community-driven ethnic economy, the engendering of a poor diet, an urgent desire to suppress learning and education, and a culture of unrelenting violence—these and all the dependency, instability, and toxic thinking that went along with them were the fruits of King Cotton, none of which black America has been able to fully purge from its system.
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