“use food to talk about the past while they eat it”

A  profile of gay, black, Jewish food historian Michael Twitty:

“Since launching the Cooking Gene Project and its concomitant Southern Discomfort Tour in 2011, Twitty has crisscrossed the South from Maryland to Texas and back again, visiting dozens of restored plantations where he has cooked and lectured, immersed himself in old records and met with other culinary professionals, black, white and Native American. In the interest of comprehending his ancestors’ experience, he has also picked cotton (for 16 hours) and cultivated sugar cane and Carolina rice (an African variety that turned white South Carolina planters into millionaires).

In Asheville, N.C., in September 2014, Twitty joined chefs Mike Moore and Elliot Moss (chef-owner of Buxton Hall Barbecue) in cooking a ‘concept dinner’ at Moore’s Blind Pig Supper Club. The meal highlighted the Afrocentric origins of Southern cooking, including barbecue, and it aimed for authenticity: To that end, the three cooks dug their barbecue pit by hand and felled saplings that Twitty used to build a wooden grill.

‘It was the most impactful dinner we have ever had,’ Moore recalls. ‘The guests loved his cooking, and they loved the talk he delivered. As far as I am concerned, Michael is the most unique character in Southern cooking today.’”

Click through for some amazing photography.

On being black and Jewish he offers a disarmingly simple explanation:

“A Jewish convert with the Twitter handle@koshersoul, Twitty is deeply engrossed in both the African American and Jewish food traditions. ‘Blacks and Jews are the only peoples I know who use food to talk about their past while they eat it,’ says Twitty, 38.”

His blog, Afroculinaria, is also great.  And here’s a nice video interview with him about his larger project to recreate the antebellum southern kitchen strictly on his own terms.

And now, I’m starving.

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