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The Cooking Gene
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South | Michael W. Twitty
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 ancestryboth black and whitethrough 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 He sifts through stories, recipes, genetic tests, and historical documents, and travels from Civil War battlefields in Virginia to synagogues in Alabama to Black-owned organic farms in Georgia.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 deepthe 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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brandybear22
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I thought I was going to a cooking talk, but then I soon realized it was a talk about the intersectionality as seen through cooking, African American and Jewish histories entwined. All by a queer southern author. Afterwards I engaged him around his roots and queerness, because it is so important to see and be seen, and to acknowledge that when we can be in invited and respected spaces, whether lecture halls or in print.

With @kgriffith

CoffeeNBooks This is such a good book! I really like Michael Twitty. 1mo
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Well-ReadNeck
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Pickpick

This book has been recommended to me several times. I don‘t know what took me so long to read it. It‘s a cookbook, a memoir, a family history/drama/saga, a genealogy primer, a manifesto. I loved every word. #MountTBR

howjessreads I tried this on audio, and just could NOT get into it. Maybe I should try again in print. 3mo
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Well-ReadNeck
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#TBRTuesday

Here‘s what‘s on deck for me this week. I have several of these in process, so I may actually finish this pile. 😂📚🙌🏼

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Christine
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I adored this book and am happily taking advantage of this deal for rereading and digital highlighting purposes. ❤️

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suzisteffen
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Pickpick

Incredible book that I listened to via Hoopla even though I own the print book & have since it came out. I need to track down quotes that I tried to bookmark while the audio was going, but basically, it was just genius, start to finish. I had a lot of “Southern food” knowledge from one of my parents, who grew up in Texas, but I didn‘t know they were mostly from Africa. DUH!?!? Fantastic book. I only wanted MORE. Culinary #history FTW. 5⭐️

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suzisteffen
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(2/2) “It was not just the spices, ingredients, and cooking methods that Africanized the diet; it was the spirit imbued in this preparation. Its vocabulary snuck into the language of the South; its flavors pushed the preferences of Britain and Germany to the rear. Its manners determined the flow, and its communalizing nature brought the West and Central African influence together ... “ ⬇️ #history #cooking #AmericanFood

suzisteffen “to allow that touch to masquerade as if Europe still had the upper hand.” 7mo
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suzisteffen
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(1/2): “The cooks on the Chesapeake plantations shifted between the worlds of the cramped, drafty cabin and ruling the kingdom of the big house kitchen. ... What took place in their hands was a dance of cultural blending and cultural resistance that was almost too civilized and graceful to notice. It was not just the spices, ingredients, and cooking methods that Africanized the diet; it was the spirit imbued in this preparation.“ ⬇️ #history

suzisteffen Its vocabulary snuck into the language of the South; its flavors pushed the preferences of Britain and Germany to the rear. Its manners determined the flow, and its communalizing nature brought the West and Central African influence together to allow that touch to masquerade as if Europe still had the upper hand.” 7mo
8 likes1 comment
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suzisteffen
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I am loving this book so much. Michael Twitty is a damn genius, as were so many cooks who were enslaved and made South Carolina, Virginia, and much of the rest of the South a culinary blend of West Africa, Europe, and the “new” world. I actually take a 15-minute-longer (two-lane hwy) road to and from work on days I commute so that I can hear another 30 minutes of the book. SO GOOD. (That‘s a backup spice rack in the photo.)

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suzisteffen
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“The American plantation wasn‘t the quaint village community you saw depicted in your history textbook. It was a labor camp system for exiled prisoners of war and victims of kidnapping.”
DAMN, Michael Twitty. So real.

kgriffith This book is so, so good. 7mo
suzisteffen @kgriffith I‘ve been wanting to read it SINCE PREORDER DAY. I finally realize that even though I had owned the book for a while, the only way I would really read it would be either as an e-book or an audiobook. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 7mo
Weaponxgirl Another book I‘ve owned for ages and been meaning to read! 7mo
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suzisteffen @Weaponxgirl I‘m not giving my print copy away, but I just can‘t hold that heavy-ass book the way I can my phone. 😂 7mo
Weaponxgirl @suzisteffen I‘m with you on that! Big books put me off now. But seriously you are always reminding me of awesome looking books in my tbr! 7mo
suzisteffen @Weaponxgirl haha! Twins! 7mo
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suzisteffen
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Finished listening to Isabel Wilkerson‘s The Warmth of Other Suns, and dove directly into this one, which I remember kickstarting years ago. Twitty‘s writing is just tremendous. #history #cooking #audiobook (I own this book, but I‘m listening to it right now on Hoopla Digital.)

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Nitpickyabouttrains
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Pickpick

This book followed Twitty‘s family, the history of food in the south, and a ton of info on slavery. It covered a ton of ground.

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mspixieears

White privilege is an obscene thing. It takes everything, quietly, until there is only silence left. Then it takes that too and fills it with noise.

(quoted from Tunde Wey & John T. Edge, Oxford American) p 407

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mspixieears

There are no heroes here, just varying levels of power and responsibility.

p 384, re. British, English and Irish history and oppression and how it relates to African-American history.

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DebinHawaii
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Pickpick

It took me weeks & some library renewals to work through this one for my virtual foodie book club-but I enjoyed it. Twitty makes his homage to the culinary history of his ancestors & tracing of the impact of African-American soul cooking on the food of the South both entertaining & informative. At times a sobering, discomforting look at US history, race & prejudice, at time humorous with stories of his relatives & life. Link to review/recipes👇🏻

DebinHawaii Recipes for (Vegan) Grit Cakes with Caramelized Onion, Garlic & Thyme & Spicy Smothered Cabbage from Vegan Soul Kitchen: http://kahakaikitchen.blogspot.com/2018/11/pan-fried-grit-cakes-with-caramelized... 12mo
gradcat This sounds really good 👨🏽‍🍳😋 12mo
tjwill Looks good! 12mo
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kgriffith
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Pickpick

I love that, in the afterword, the author acknowledges that this is a complete mishmash of genres, though he is apologetic about it, while I find it to be one of the book‘s greatest strengths. Few non-fiction titles can claim to be “something for everyone” and deliver. This book doesn‘t claim to, but delivers just the same.

saresmoore I want this in my life! 13mo
kgriffith @saresmoore it was a good listen, and would be a speedy read! 13mo
suzisteffen What WAS that apology for? I thought it was amazing. 🤔 WHAT IS GENRE ANYWAY 7mo
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kgriffith
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“Rice has a long history with culinary justice.” #trafficjam #audiocommuting

jmofo My favorite rice quote: “Rice is great if you're really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.” Mitch Hedberg 13mo
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kgriffith
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Commuter house #audiocooking

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kgriffith
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“Cooking from a place of heritage, identity, and belonging is a powerful thing, fraught with class and cultural politics.” This book wrapped up in one sentence.

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kgriffith
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“Traditional African religions have a complex understanding of food in the service of faith. Food is often a necessary vehicle between one‘s ancestors or the spiritual forces that guide their destiny.”
(and my dinner)

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kgriffith
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“The kitchen table was also the place where
I came out to my mother at the age of
16. The kitchen table to us was a place of worry, argument, and resolution, and I had no idea where else we should have the conversation.”
I just found him on Instagram (@thecookinggene) and his obsession with purple tights (which he dyes himself!) makes me so happy.

CoffeeNBooks I really enjoyed his book! 13mo
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kgriffith
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“There is no chef without a homeland. To be a chef today is to center yourself in traditions of your roots, and use them to define your art, and speak to any human being about who you are. Your plate is your flag.”

JSW I love this book. 13mo
celtichik This book was amazing, I thought it was gonna be one thing....but then it turned out to be so much more. Definitely needs more than one read through to absorb it all 13mo
CoffeeK8 This books is amazing! I read it over a year ago and it continues to stick with me 13mo
kgriffith @JSW @celtichik @CoffeeK8 I‘m enjoying it, and picking up some new vocabulary as well! Now to find ways to work “eudaemonia” into conversations... 🤔 13mo
kgriffith Tagging @jmofo for the #lasagnahoggiveaway as I‘ve has several opportunities to discuss this new addition to my vocab tonight 😊 13mo
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mspixieears
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and then there was music. It‘s not an exaggeration to say that art and creativity saves lives, or that it saves us when food can‘t, in ways that food can‘t quite.

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mspixieears

A heartbreaking reflection on slavery and surviving the trip to America from the African continent:

Maybe smallpox was a mercy compared with what was to follow. There is no place else to go but down when you are already in hell.

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mspixieears

All across the African diaspora in the Americas, there is a ritual of going to places where the sea meets the land. In these spaces homage is paid by the descendants of those who survived long enough to cross the water and make new lives — and create new life.

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Wife
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Pickpick

“There is a lot of beautiful and a lot of ugly mashed together” - Michael W. Twitty

I‘ve always wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg. The author is a Revolutionary in Residence there and now I‘m even more determined to visit. He‘s a culinary historian and this book has tons of information as well as a touch of memoir and a few recipes. I pulled up a PBS newshour video featuring him on YouTube. I recommend both the book and video. 3⭐️s

IamIamIam Wow, this looks amazing!!!! 14mo
49 likes1 comment
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mspixieears
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Going to try a thing for Black History Month where I priorise authors with any African heritage or Indigenous Australian authors (Blak).
Been looking forward to reading this for ages and only reading for pleasure before bed :)

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Wife
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#31bookpics I‘m at work and my eyes (and my brain) are tired. There is a lot of info in this book that I‘m #currentlyreading I don‘t want to miss anything important, so I‘m putting it away for now. @howjessreads

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MoniqueReads305
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CoffeeK8
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📘The Cooking Gene
💾Zen Cho
📽Clueless
🧀Cheese (any cheese, really)
#manicmonday

JoScho Clueless 💕 1y
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CoffeeK8
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1 Turquoise/teal range of colors
2 so much I never knew about our history
3 The 4th Estate about the NYT, it was amazing!
4 Onions, ketchup and mustard
5 Dinner with friends, shopping for plants and a goodbye dinner from cousins moving to London
#friyayintro

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bnp
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1. The cooking gene by Michael Twitty
2. Popcorn
3. Overcooked okra
4. Thanksgiving
5. Varies - I'll say Los Hermanos

#manicmonday
@JoScho

LibrarianJen Over cooked okra 🤢 2y
JoScho Thanks for playing ❤️ 2y
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Christine
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Pickpick

This was so good and so many things at once - a memoir/ancestral history/meditation on identity/intro to black history, Southern US history, agricultural history - all wrapped up in an outstanding sociocultural history of African American food and cooking. It‘s dense with information and stories about all of these things and more, and Twitty‘s writing is vivid and wonderful. 🍴❤️

CoffeeK8 I am still thinking about this book months after I finished reading it. It was wonderful! 2y
Christine @CoffeeK8 Oh good! I think this one will stick with me, too. :) 2y
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SuperPunkNinja
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Yay! This book is finally available on audio. I can't wait to listen to it, I've been waiting forever.

saresmoore Ooh, this sounds interesting! 2y
47 likes2 stack adds1 comment
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Chelsibeau
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Home from work early. She is not supposed to be on the bed....but how do you say no to that face???

BookMaven407 🐶❤️ 2y
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Bookreasons.com
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Can‘t put this one down

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Booksnchill
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Pickpick

This narrative nonfiction work is my first 5⭐️ read of 2018. Twitty is a food historian and interpreter who in 2012 went on a search for his own roots and place in the diaspora of southern cooking. “The domestic slave trade was more than just the largest forced migration in American history” it was a turning point for the food of the slave regions. Michael Twitty‘s narrative is well researched, deeply personal and engaging. Loved it, learned alot.

Tamra I was quite tempted by this in B&N last month! 2y
lauren.lerner If you have Twitter, you should tweet at him. @koshersoul — he‘s hustling hard for his book on that platform!! 2y
JSW Amazing book. Unlike anything I‘ve ever read. The blurbs don‘t do it justice. 2y
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Booksnchill @lauren.lerner Thanks for letting me know- I will do that! 2y
Booksnchill @JSW I felt the sane way- it wasn‘t the book I thought it woulf be- it was better and richer 2y
Booksnchill @Tamra I loved it- odd that my B&N shelved with cookbooks- more like a Memoir 2y
Zelma I just g this from the library. So excited about it! 2y
75 likes3 stack adds9 comments
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Booksnchill
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#LitsyPartyOfOne has begun and this is an amazing read about the African American Culinary Tradition and history of the old south. Twitty is straight on about slavery, racism and unsung heros of the southern cuisine. #DogsOfLitsy Whiskey has decided to nap through these first hours! @Ambrosnazzy

kyraleseberg I grabbed this recently as an e-book deal, I've been looking forward to it since its release! 2y
Booksnchill @kyraleseberg so far it is very well written and full of history of the African culinary contributions to the American Old South- no holds barred. Great read for this weekend focused on POC and MLK! 2y
celtichik I went into this book with a set of expectations and it was so much bigger than that, learned so much more, lots more to research and unpack! 2y
Godmotherx5 I‘ve wanted to his book. Your review makes the book more enticing. 2y
Booksnchill @celtichik @Godmotherx5 I agree a densely packed book- I recommend getting it! 2y
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Booksnchill
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@Ambrosnazzy is hosting this #litsypartyofone and I have a Friday snow day so starting early with the tagged book which finally came in from my library hold list- then hopefully I will finish The Changeling by Victor LaValle. Happy Introverting Littens!

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KiRenn
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“The Atlantic world has been an incredible experiment in how an enslaved population could get away with enslaving the palates of the people who enslaved them. From Boston to Bahia, the black cook—enslaved or free—was second to none. To go beyond assumptions; to interrogate our pain; to see the faces of our ancestors, to cook with them, to know them intimately the only way I can know them after decades of memory loss—those are my paths.”

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kgriffith
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Shopped the sale a bit today, despite really trying to resist... But! All hold with my reading goal for basically here on out: POC, especially QT/WOC, and feminist/queer/neuroqueer shit to the FRONT.

kgriffith @lorannen I figured I‘d want to read on, so I took a chance and bought book 3 ;) 2y
lorannen You will not regret it! 2y
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BrownGirlReading
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Pickpick

A tough read because the book is not linear, but full of important information. Go check out my review on Goodreads.

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Lesliereads
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I wrote “Memories Evoked While Reading The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty” - posted to my blog, today! http://folkloreandliteracy.com scroll down and click on “continue reading”😋 #culinaryhistories #thecookinggene #afroculinaria

EchoLogical Thank you for sharing your thoughts! After reading your post, I think I'm gonna move this one up on my list and wait to read 2y
Lesliereads @Echological😁Well now I have Salt, Fat, Acid on my TBR. (edited) 2y
Anna40 I just read your blog / short essay on the book. Moving The Cooking Gene up my list as well! 2y
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Tameeka
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“In 2011, I remembered that I had started to forget where I came from. I became aware of my own apathy and amnesia. I had a responsibility to study the generations before me and use that to move forward.”

DrexEdit I'm looking forward to reading this book! 2y
RaimeyGallant Nice quote! 2y
Tameeka @DrexEdit I've only heard great things about this book. I'm still at the beginning and it hasn't disappointed yet! 2y
9 likes3 comments
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BrittFrancko
Pickpick

I knew that, as a history, sociology, and food nerd I‘d like this. I didn‘t realize I‘d be unable to put it down. The history and food narratives are fascinating, but what makes this gripping is Twitty‘s brutally honest memoir style, his meditation and reflection on the construction of modern black identity through his own lived experience.

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Mixedreader
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Lesliereads
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Pickpick

This is a pick for me even though I am not a fan of how the book is put together. The content is super-rich and complex and I‘ve already spent a number of hours trying to write about my impressions, what I‘ve learned, and what I think about it🤔.

JSW Might be my fave book of 2017. 😍😍 2y
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scatterall
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Pickpick

Top notch food history plus memoir. He writes so beautifully, and this is essay at its best, thoughtful self-questioning in the context of history and genealogy, made more present through travel and his development of practical skills.

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BrownGirlReading
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The Cooking Gene is keeping me happily occupied! What a fantastic read so far.... I'm learning so much. Definitely a must read if you haven't heard of it! #readsoullit

BellaBookNook I keep hearing about this book. Might have to check it out. 2y
BrownGirlReading @BellaBookNook Yes this one is a definite read and reread! 🔥 2y
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lauralovesbooks1
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Pickpick

This is one worth taking some time with. Twitty explores his family history, through slavery back to when they were forcibly brought here. He weaves that together with extensive detail on the African American culinary history, tracing it's roots also back to Africa. Very well constructed and it gave me a lot to think about -- food, history, politics, and especially what genealogy means when not all the partnerships were willing ones.

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emilygatlin
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Trying to get some morning reading done for a review due tomorrow, and it's going really well.