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.
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Writing in the Kitchen


I received a free, uncorrected proof copy of Writing in the Kitchen to review through Net Galley.  At no time was a positive review of the book expected as a condition for receiving this copy

Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways.

Southern food as it is packaged and sold to the consuming public, is often portrayed as food out of a simpler time. Writing in the Kitchen serves to remind us, that the times were never simple. Beneath the genteel surface of Southern food lies a long and complicated history.

Editors David A. Davis and Tara Powell have compiled a fine selection of essays on the subject. Writing in the Kitchen covers a broad history of Southern food. The book runs from the early 18th century to the present day. From agricultural magazines to poetry. Continue reading