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Publisher's Summary

Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who "owns" it is one of the most provocative touchpoints in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes listeners 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.

Twitty travels from the tobacco and rice farms of colonial times to plantation kitchens and backbreaking cotton fields to tell of the struggles his family faced and how food enabled his ancestors' survival across three centuries. He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and visits Civil War battlefields in Virginia, synagogues in Alabama, and black-owned organic farms in Georgia.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 South's past.

Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep - the power of food to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.

©2017 Michael W. Twitty (P)2018 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Twitty ably joins past and present, puzzling out culinary mysteries along the way.... An exemplary, inviting exploration and an inspiration for cooks and genealogists alike." (Kirkus, Starred Review)

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I wish this was required reading for everyone!

Would you listen to The Cooking Gene again? Why?

Yes

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Cooking Gene?

The stories of what happened to individual slaves and the descriptions of the work slaves were required to do were so powerful. The story of the black woman whose slave holder and father of her children sold one of their twins to punish her for "stealing" eggs to feed their children will stay with me forever.

Any additional comments?

It was so interesting to hear the part sugar played in slavery.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful