A breathtaking conversation this week, from culinary historian Michael W. Twitty.
I read The Cooking Gene: A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South last year, and it’s still on my bedside table. It altered the way I think about the South and Southern food and my Southern family. His book is a gift: a raw, humane, outraged, wholly original memoir.
The conversation up top (from 2017 when his book launched) gives an excellent introduction to the things that Michael W. Twitty is thinking about. He blends sharp humor with his lacerating take on the shared history of white people and the people they enslaved.
He says: “I had to carve my own niche. My goal is to become the first completely proficient Black colonial and antebellum-style chef since the Civil War. Our ancestors were not second-best caterers. They were not second-best restaurateurs and tavern owners. They were number one. In the same way that people associated laundry with Chinese immigrants, and associated other businesses with other ethnic groups, they associated excellent cooking with Black men and women. Whether they were in chains, they were people of color.”
If you’d like to hear more, The Cooking Gene is available as an audiobook at audible.com, and he is the narrator.