This is the first day of a long journey for me; to document and reveal our culture through its gastronomy. My name is Michael W. Twitty and I’m a culinary historian and historic interpreter interested in African, African American, African Diaspora, Southern, and Jewish foodways–reflecting all different parts of my identity. This blog, meant to connect with my websites, is a place where I want to show the process of delving into the history, aesthetics and knowledge systems of African-based food traditions and where possible, recreating the foods of the past. Some of my work is about tracing the history of African American foodways from West and Central Africa to early America through slavery to the Civil War. Other aspects of my work deal with the protection, preservation and re-imagining of African American heirloom crops and heritage foods revitalizing their use responsibly in the contemporary kitchen A third aspect is what I coin “identity cooking,” or the way what we cook and what we eat says about who we are and how it connects us to other people. Everything I do is built on a foundation of ethical documentation, spiritual respect, ecological awareness and social justice Thank you for coming on this journey with me, my ancestors, and all those who are passionate and empowered by this incredible tradition and its powerful legacy.
Michael W. Twitty is a recognized culinary historian, community scholar, and living history interpreter focusing on historic African American food and folk culture. He is webmaster of www.afroculinaria.com, the first website/blog devoted to the preservation of historic African American foods and foodways. He has conducted classes and workshops,written curricula and educational programs, giving lectures and performed cooking demonstrations for over 100 groups including the Smithsonian Institution, Colonial Williamsburg, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Library of Congress, and the Oxford University Symposium on Food and Cookery. He has been profiled in the Washington Postand interviewed multiple times on NPR including the acclaimed food program, The Spendid Table. He is well known for his expertise in the history and heritage of enslaved African Americans and their foodways and his expertise in growing African American heirloom crops, open hearth cooking, heritage breed livestock, and wild flora and fauna utilized by enslaved Africans and their descendants. His new project is The Cooking Gene; a journey through the Old South in the food-steps of his ancestors linking his genealogy with the history of African American foodways. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org