The Cooking Gene – Michael W Twitty

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South,  by Michael W. Twitty is another book that I picked up from the Millennium Library’s New and Noted Section. If you can get past all the latest and greatest diet and nutrition fad books, there are generally one or two worthwhile titles to pick up and read. I was particularly interested in this book after having recently read John T. Edge’s the Potlikker papers.

*Before I get into this post, for some unrelated, bonus, Dining with Donald content, here’s a link to an article I wrote on Feasting for The Rupert’s Land News, our Diocesan newspaper.*

I first heard of Twitty when I came across a link to a talk he gave on Culinary Justice. I was unfamiliar with his work, and when I went looking for some background information, that is I Googled him, I discovered that he first came to prominence when he wrote an open letter to Paula Deen. This letter came amid Deen’s firing from the Food Network over her use of racist language.

Twitty was already in the process of laying the groundwork for what would end up as The Cooking Gene. The book is a deep and complex look into Twitty’s family life and history, and how that family life and history is intertwined with the history of The Old South(he explains at the opening of the book his own definition of what The Old South means). Twitty identifies as a Black, Jewish, Gay man, and these three combine to

The Cooking Gene cover

The cover of Michael W Twitty’s The Cooking Gene.

I’m not sure how well qualified I am to review this book. Being a middle-aged, white, Canadian has kept me far removed from the outrages and injustices visited on Twitty, his ancestors, and his modern, black contemporaries. I will however give a few thoughts.
Continue reading


Baraka Pita Bakery – North Main

I really enjoy Shawarma. I’ve tried several places in town. Both Falafel Queen and Best Meal on the food truck scene. As well Shawarma Khan, Sultan’s Shawarma, and Flatland Wrap. All this time, whenever the topic of Shawarma comes up, people always ask me if I have been to Baraka Pita on Main Street.

Well, until recently I hadn’t. Then, earlier this month Michael, a parishioner, batching it while his wife and son visited family out of town, invited me to join him there for supper. How could I possibly refuse such a kind offer. Leaving from Saint Philip’s, it seemed like a long ride down Main Street, possibly because neither of us had been there before. Despite that we managed to arrive without driving by the place.

Guava beverage that I chose to go along with my first meal.

Guava beverage that I chose to go along with my first meal.

Our arrival was after the supper rush was over, but the restaurant was still fairly busy. There was also a reasonably steady stream of traffic in and out as we ate our meal. We placed our order, Michael went for the Chicken Shawarma and I went for the Beef Donair. Michael also added a dozen of the Spinach Fatire. Continue reading

Sultan’s Shawarma, Ellice Avenue

One of the pleasures of living in the Spence neighbourhood is that there are so many dining choices close by. As the neighbourhood is so diverse, there are also a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. I’m a big fan of shawarma, and there are two places within a few blocks of each other. Shawarma Time at the corner of Ellice and Sherbrook, and Sultan’s Shawarma, just a few blocks east towards the University of Winnipeg.

Sultan Shawarma Sign

This was on the wall of Sultan’s Shawarma. I’ve seen similar signs at King + Bannatyne. We truly are a disposable society.

Sultan’s Shawarma qualifies as a hole in the wall kind of business. The storefront the restaurant is located in is nothing to look at from the outside. Inside, the thing that first hits you is the walls. The are green. Really green. Like they misunderstood the concept of green business green. There are plenty of tables and there is a TV screen regularly playing sports or news. The chairs are quite comfortable if you are dining in.

Sultan Shawarma seating.

Did I mention the walls are green?

Sultan Shawarma Meals:

Beside the shawarma, Sultan’s Shawarma sells Calzones, Pizza, Burgers and other fast food standards. In both of my visits I decided that I would focus on the shawarma. Continue reading