Celebrated culinary historian Michael W. Twitty to present Carleton convocation

February 27, 2019

Culinary historian Michael W. Twitty will present Carleton College’s weekly convocation on Friday, Mar. 1 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. In a talk entitled, “Koshersoul: Black-Jewish Identity Cooking,” Twitty will draw upon his own African American and Jewish heritages to explore how food is woven into cultural histories and identities.

Carleton convocations are free and open to the public. They are recorded and archived for online viewing on the convocations website.

Being African American and Jewish is a combination that many can’t wrap their heads around. However, for thousands of Jews of color who have heritage, faith and family in both Diasporas — African and Jewish — that means interweaving histories and identities. For Twitty, this includes food and the ways Africans and Jews have mediated otherness and oppression using what they eat, as well as the global stories that Diasporic foodways have to offer.

A celebrated culinary and cultural historian and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacy, Twitty is the author of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South (Amistad, 2017). Winner of the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book of the Year, the 2018 James Beard Foundation Book Award Winner in Writing, and nominated for the 2018 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, “The Cooking Gene” is an illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces Twitty’s ancestry — both black and white — through food, from Africa to America and from slavery to freedom.

In the book, 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 He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and visits Civil War battlefields in Virginia, synagogues in Alabama, and black-owned organic farms in Georgia. The New York Times called the book “fascinating” and the Washington Post declared, “Should there ever be a competition to determine the most interesting man in the world, Michael W. Twitty would have to be considered a serious contender.”

Twitty has been honored by the website First We Feast as one of twenty greatest food bloggers of all time, and named one of “Fifty People Changing the South” by Southern Living. He has appeared on NPR’s The Splendid Table and Morning Edition and has written for the Guardian, Ebony, Local Palate, and the Washington Post. Twitty was a 2014 Smith Symposium Fellow of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a 2016 TED fellow and speaker, and was recently honored by Taste Talks with their first Culinary Pioneer Award. Afrioculinaria was honored with both the readers’ and editors’ choice awards from Saveur for the best food and culture blog.

This event is sponsored by Carleton College Convocations. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located at First and College Streets in Northfield.