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The Cooking Gene

by Michael W. Twitty
# UT3742 Paperback, 453 pages; 2018 (2017)
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All I ever wanted was a recipe of who I am and where I come from.

In 2012, food historian and culinary interpreter Michael Twitty launched the Cooking Gene Project to trace the history and legacy of African-American foodways and his own family's path through slavery and segregation. Part genealogical exploration, part food history, his resulting memoir manages to be both deeply personal and broadly relevant, exploring the historical and cultural significance of Southern cuisine and how its development and survival reflect that of millions of enslaved people, their African forebears, and their American descendants—including Twitty. But this is not a staid chronological account: Twitty's tale develops much as a passionate discussion unfolds over the course of a long meal, seasoned with personal stories, occasionally contentious debates, and plenty of hard truths. Because "everything must be put on the table; our food is not just food for us, it is a way into an alternative history and a new vision of who we can become." (KG)
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