The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

The Cooking Gene

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....

Details The Cooking Gene

TitleThe Cooking Gene
Release DateAug 1st, 2017
GenreNonfiction, History, Food and Drink, Food, Autobiography, Memoir, Cookbooks, Cooking, Race

Reviews The Cooking Gene

  • Alexandra
    I heard Michael Twitty speak on a panel a few years ago, at an event on interpreting African-American history today. Twitty, a gay black Jewish man who passionately talked about culinary history, sparked my interest. He is well known for cooking meals on plantations in the American South using only the cookware and food that was available to slaves. I was thrilled to find out that he would be publishing a book, and eagerly awaited its publication...
  • Gail
    I had a complicated experience reading this book. On the whole, it rates 4* for the important and fascinating information on the history of enslavement in America, the culinary history of Southern food, and the way in which DNA can guide a genealogical project. But the book is not without its flaws.My mother was born a Southerner (white) and I recall our family treks from Wisconsin to Virginia which was very much moving from one culture (heavily ...
  • Claire
    Michael Twitty has penned a sweeping memoir enriched with interleaved stories of the African Slave experience. As a culinary historian who delves into the African contribution to American cooking and a docent in a living history center demonstrating slave cooking, Michael used those resources as a jumping point, ultimately traveling the world gathering details for this wide reaching tale. Sometimes drifting into a scholarly voice Michael Twitty n...
  • Rebecca Gomez
    Twitty provides a fascinating look into how African cooking during the Slave Trade influenced the modern day and historic foods we associate with Southern cooking today, and how climate, cash crops, and the violence visited upon the enslaved all are evident in the cuisine. It's a deep dive into his own personal genealogy and family oral histories as well, written in a way that doesn't provide conclusion, as so many African American people can nev...
  • Sarah
    Michael Twitty takes you on a journey into his family's past, searching for the roots of Southern cooking. Along the way, we are reminded of why the history of slavery is not a "thing of the past" and how it still affects all of us today. Anyone who has eaten barbeque, had a loaf of southern style cornbread, eaten a bowl of delicious gumbo, or worn a cotton shirt "Made in the USA" is doing so as a direct result of our history with slavery. Does t...
  • Ben Einsidler
    Culinary Sociology and Genealogy 101.I preordered "The Cooking Gene" months ago and eagerly awaited its arrival. My own hype was immediately satisfied as I turned to the first page. I quickly became engrossed by Michael Twitty's wonderful, inviting storytelling. This is the story not only of his ancestors and how they came to shape who he is, but of the food that is so familiar (or so it would seem) to so many of us which they bequeathed. I first...
  • Teresa V
    I just finished reading The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty. This book is nothing short of a declaration of truth on so many levels. It is about Twitty's life and him coming into his own, about all the ancestors who contributed to his DNA, and about the cultural transfers of food that came with the arrival of our African ancestors to this country. Twitty gives a thorough breakdown of what foods Africans brought to country and what foods they incor...
  • AKA
    This book defies easy categorization - it's a culinary history, a personal archaeo-genealogical quest, a funny and powerful autobiography, and also has some *excellent* recipes.I discovered Twitty through his work reenacting the life and foodways of the enslaved on Youtube (via the Townsends channel), where his patient, funny, and socially-conscious food and technique demonstrations made me hungry (heh) for more of his work.This book is full of f...
  • Linda Steighner
    Michael Twitty's book "The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South" was both a personal and national history of traditional southern cooking roots. Twitty uses his own experiences and history to show the origins of the southern American cooking style. It is a book of slavery as well as a cookbook. Twitty uses family recipes, family history, his own DNA analysis, as well as documented national history to ...
  • Kiwi Carlisle
    This memoir is full of beautiful writing, deep feeling, lots of historical research, and even a few recipes. Michael Twitty's musings on how enslaved people created Southern cooking are more than fascinating; they are moving. I enjoyed his exploration of the journey of New World foods to Europe and Africa and the ways in which those foods returned, transformed, in the foodways of captive Africans. His exploration of his family background was no l...
  • Jennifer
    Excellent read! Twitty's elegant writing mixes genealogy and cooking and history and race and ... there's so much in this book that it's hard to list them all -- he just weaves everything together so nicely. My only complaint is (very) minor. I wish there had been a family tree somewhere. I read the ARC, so maybe it's in the final copy, but I had trouble sometimes following maternal/paternal great great...etc.
  • JayBee
    So glad I ordered "The Cooking Gene" on last week. Living in Florida, we were all on high alert and inside for the natural disaster known as Hurricane Irma. So armed with this book, I was able to read and enjoy during the eye of the storm. Good reading for history and cuisine "buffs" It captures the essence of both. Love and appreciate the amount of research Michel Twitty invested in writing this book
  • Autumn
    Reminded me of my old favorite MFK Fisher in the way he uses food memories and culture to evoke and explore identity. I loved the parts about young Michael Twitty reading cookbooks for fun and watching PBS cooking shows with his granny and begging his dad for a trip to Colonial Williamsburg. IT WAS ALL THERE FROM AN EARLY AGE. I love weird kids.
  • Joe Kosarek
    Most of this book was simply fascinating.
  • Michelle Jackson
    It's a really well written book, I just couldn't get into it. I'd like to come back and maybe finish it later.
  • Deb
    I am really enjoying this book so far. Michael Twitty's personal story and that of his family and ancestors is fascinating. He really brings things to life.
  • Tepintzin
    BOOK OF THE YEAR. Michael Twitty describes his book as a "mosaic". It is the story of his personal interaction with food growing up African-American. His experiences with food and the family members who prepared it lead to his awareness of food and cuisine as memory of ancestry going through slavery and back to Africa. Doing a number of ancestry DNA tests informed Twitty what parts of Africa his family originally came from, where they landed in A...
  • James
    I just never got into this book. Maybe a few more chapters would have hooked me, but it always seemed more interesting to put the book down and do something else.