Black Culinary Scene
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Author Michael W. Twitty Discusses "The Cooking Gene"


About the book:
For African American culinary historian Michael W. Twitty there was a giant hole in the story of American cooking as big as the one in the story of most African American families. Putting the microscope on himself, Michael decided to fully trace out his family history through the story of Southern and American food.

The “Cooking Gene” offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, and is an illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces Twitty’s ancestry—both black and white—through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom. Using genetic research, historic interpretation, nature study, and interviews with contemporary voices in food, his journey led him back to his family’s origins in West and Central Africa. As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past; revealing 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.

About the author:
Michael W. Twitty is a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora. He is the winner of the 2018 James Beard Book of the Year Award for “The Cooking Gene” and a nominee for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction. His award winning blog, Afroculinaria, highlights and address food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it. A Washington, D.C. native, he teaches Judaic studies and has a passion for food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African American history and cultural politics.

Presented in partnership with One More Page Books. This program is part of the Library’s celebration of Black History Month.

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