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The cooking gene : a journey through…
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The cooking gene : a journey through African-American culinary history in… (original 2017; edição 2017)

por Michael Twitty

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4711640,410 (4.23)13
"A memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces the paths of the author's ancestors (black and white) through the crucible of slavery to show its effects on our food today"--
Membro:MissSquish
Título:The cooking gene : a journey through African-American culinary history in the Old South
Autores:Michael Twitty
Informação:New York, NY : Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, , [2017]
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South por Michael W. Twitty (2017)

Adicionado recentemente porbiblioteca privada, bookisheyre, MorbidLibrarian, JhoiraArtificer, treidy, Josmine
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Michael W. Twitty blends his passions for cooking and geneaology in The Cooking Gene. He traces his own ancestry as far as he can, then relies on genetic testing to give him a better idea of where his ancestors came from. He also outlines the ways that African slaves fused their own cooking traditions with New World foods to create the Southern food that’s beloved by so many today.

This book was an obvious labor of love for Mr. Twitty and his passions shine through the pages. Unfortunately, I don’t particularly enjoy cooking or genealogy so the book fell a bit flat for me.

I glanced through quite a few reviews on GoodReads before I decided to check this out and saw others frequently complaining that the text is disjointed and hard to follow. Deciding that “forewarned is forearmed,” I jumped in. I was still a bit lost. I know that the author had a lot of valid points and connections to make but I had a hard time following his train of thought. Part of the problem is that he writes in a stream-of-consciousness style and I rarely do well with that.

“My aim has been to give a sense of the bric-a-brac mosaic that is the average African American’s experience when he or she attempts to look back to recapture our cultural and culinary identities obscured by the consequences of racial chattel slavery. If it were possible to give a linear, orderly, soup to nuts version of my story or any of my family’s without resorting to genre gymnastics, I would have considered it.”

That’s a fair point.

But I also lack much of my own knowledge base to draw from. As Mr. Twitty writes in his Afterward:

“It is really difficult to write outside of your own headspace and to remember that your reader may, in many cases, be unfamiliar with elements of the subject matter.”

Yes. That was exactly my problem.

There were sections that were very powerful to me. The author works (worked?) as a historical interpreter, preparing food at plantations in the ways that his enslaved ancestors would have. What an emotional calling that must be.

“I would have to learn to maneuver the cooking utensils of old and learn how to keep time as I cooked. I lost arm hair and eyebrows, a little blood here and there; I was scalded and branded, burned and seared. These are the marks of my tribe.”

Wow. He also goes out to a field and picks cotton while listening to slave spirituals, watches molasses being made, tracks down long-forgotten cemeteries, and generally lays his hands on as many pieces of this puzzle of a book as he can. I give him huge points for that. I personally wouldn’t want anything to do with cotton in his shoes but he wants to experience the reality of his forebears.

Sometimes Mr. Twitty writes about terrible things that I would know if I took time to think about them, but I haven’t from my place of White privilege. When he explores his European ancestors, he blatantly says that White slave owners raped his Black ancestresses. Did I understand that somewhere in my brain? Yes. Has anyone really presented it to me in a way that opened my eyes like that? No. What an unbearable thing to incorporate into your family history. But it’s an undeniable reality.

Readers with a stronger background in culinary history and/or genealogy will most likely follow the labyrinthine thread of this narrative much better than I did. I personally lost my way pretty early on and unfortunately took away very little from the book. ( )
  JG_IntrovertedReader | Aug 14, 2021 |
This is a pleasantly meandering trip through family history, the food of African Americans in the South (particularly under slavery), and how both the people and the food came here from Africa and were changed into the cuisines we know today. There's a lot of fascinating history here (and some recipes) and it's written in a very personal, conversational style that's fun to read. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
There is so much to be explored in this topic. Twitty's history/memoir is expansive, and I enjoyed his sleuthing. I'd love to get even more granular into the various pockets of history and culture of food in the African diaspora, and I'd love to dig a little deeper into Twitty's own identity as a queer, Jewish Black man. ( )
  LibroLindsay | Jun 18, 2021 |
More family history than culinary history. Not what I was looking for.
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
What a beautiful, emotional, thought-provoking book. Mr. Twitty wrote a work that in an autobiography of himself and his known family, and so much more. It's about genealogy, and the ugliness of slavery, and food--food, being more than sustenance, but a source of stories, history, culture, and soul. This is a read that will linger with me for a very long time. ( )
  ladycato | Apr 9, 2021 |
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The disruption of the black family, the interruption of an important community-driven ethnic economy, the engendering of a poor diet, an urgent desire to suppress learning and education, and a culture of unrelenting violence—these and all the dependency, instability, and toxic thinking that went along with them were the fruits of King Cotton, none of which black America has been able to fully purge from its system.
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