I’ll be highlighting books that I am reading (or re-reading) on all sorts of topics this year — Douglas
A dizzying swirl of food and life and history and slavery and food and genealogy and stories and Africa and everything else that is a part of Twitty’s life. I learned and/or felt something new on every page.
I originally decided to read this book as it was about food and food history, but as I made my way through it I discovered so much more. Even with an authority on United States Slavery living here in my own home, I still learned even more about it with each page. Twitty’s journey to discover who he is by discovering where he came from is a familiar one, but also unique in so many ways. Informed by DNA analysis, deep food-ways research, personal stories and his encounters with people throughout the American South delve deeper into the past and root out basic historical reasons why food, race, history, and families are so complicated today.
At times this book is hard to read. The stories are just too despairing and most modern readers have no frame of reference. It does force you to face the past — all of the past — and come out a better person on the other side with a deeper, if still imperfect, understanding of our collective history.
As other reviewers have mentioned, I wish there had been more recipes throughout the book, that isn’t really its purpose. The recipes provide cultural touchstones but it is the stories that resonate long after you close the covers.
** My version of this book was available from the Los Angeles Public Library in print and ebook versions.
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.
Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers 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.
From the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields, Twitty tells his family story through the foods that enabled his ancestors’ survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to 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 Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.
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** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library
Previously in (Re)Reading:
- Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies by by Andrew Degraff and A.D. Jameson
- The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by by Jason Fagone
- The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden: 326 Fast, Easy, Affordable Ways to Transform Your Yard One Project at a Time by Sally Roth
- Raised Bed Revolution: Build It, Fill It, Plant It … Garden Anywhere by Tara Nolan
- Bread Is Gold by Massimo Bottura
- Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
- Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimble
- The Wildcrafted Cocktail: Make Your Own Foraged Syrups, Bitters, Infusions, and Garnishes by Ellen Zacho
- 3-Ingredient Cocktails: An Opinionated Guide to the Most Enduring Drinks in the Cocktail Canon by Robert Simonson
- Chemistry: A Novel by Weike Wong
- Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry
- Steal like an artist 10 things nobody told you about being creative by Austin Kleon