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A packed crowd gathered last Thursday October 18 at the Slover Library in downtown Norfolk to hear Michael Twitty, author of “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South.”
In a two-hour entertaining and insightful lecture, Twitty, who won the 2018 James Beard Foundation’s Book Of The Year Award for his book, offered his perspective on the politics of Southern cuisine with an eye to encouraging racial healing between Blacks and Whites.
His book’s goal, he stated, is not “about giving you my grandmother’s family secret recipes” which he loves to prepare. Rather, Twitty said he wrote “The Cooking Gene” to show the relationship between food and the way of life and culture in the South beginning with the era of enslavement to the present. He believes that understanding how the preparation of foods germane to Southern life such as “soul food,” barbecue, rice, beans and all Southern cuisine can bind rather than divide people across racial lines.
The event was the first author event in three lectures planned by the Slover’s Catherine Lee Brinkley Memorial Lecture Series. The next event is January 27, 2019 with Catherine Kerrison who will discuss her book “Jefferson’s Daughters” about three of Thomas Jefferson’s daughters, two White and free, and one Black and enslaved.
A reception preceded the Twitty lecture with a book-signing after.
“The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South” by Michael Twitty is available at Prince’s Bookstore and online.