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Short Synopsis
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.

Full Synopsis
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, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes listeners 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 He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and visits Civil War battlefields in Virginia, synagogues in Alabama, and black-owned organic farms in Georgia.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.

"This is a fascinating study,
beautifully read, and lovers of food and history will be enchanted." ---Booklist Audio Review

“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 Starred Review

“Fascinating. . . . A valuable addition to culinary and Old South historiography with lip-smacking period recipes.” ---Library Journal Starred Review
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Kirkus Review

Library Journal Review

The Cooking Gene

A Journey Through African-american Culinary History in the Old South

Author Michael W. Twitty

Narrated by Michael W. Twitty

Publication date Feb 13, 2018

Running time 15 hrs 22 min

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