About Afroculinaria

Hanging in Harlem, photo by Adam W. Woomer

photo by Adam W. Woomer

Afroculinaria is a food blog authored by Michael W. Twitty, (Twitter: @Koshersoul), a food writer, independent scholar, culinary historian , and historical interpreter personally charged with preparing, preserving and promoting African American foodways and its parent traditions in Africa and her Diaspora and its legacy in the food culture of the American South.  Michael is a Judaic studies teacher from the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area and his interests include food culture, food history, Jewish cultural issues, African American history and cultu ral politics. Afroculinaria will highlight and address food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it.

Antebellum Me, by Johnathan M. Lewis

Photo by Johnathan M. Lewis

Michael’s work is a braid of two distinct brands:  the Antebellum Chef and Kosher/Soul. Antebellum Chef represents the vast number of unknown Black cooks across the Americas that were essential in the creation of the creole cuisines of Atlantic world.  The reconstruction and revival of traditional African American foodways means seed keeping, growing heirlooms and heritage crops, raising heritage breeds and sustainably gathering and maintaining wild flora and fauna that our ancestors relied upon.  The responsible exploration of the Southern food heritage demands that the cooks of colonial, federal era and antebellum kitchens and enslaved people’s cabins be honored for their unique role in giving the Southland her mother cuisine.  It is important that we not only honor the Ancestors but provide a lifeline to contemporary communities and people of color looking for a better life in the new economy, a way out of the health and chronic illness crisis, and a way to reduce the vast food deserts that plague many of our communities.  To honor the food past and provide for the food future is what Michael calls, “culinary justice.”  

Outside of Roberta's and the Heritage Radio Network Studios: Photo By Nicole Taylor

Photo By Nicole Taylor

Kosher/Soul is the brand that deals with what Michael has termed “identity cooking.”  Identity cooking isn’t about fusion; rather its how we construct complex identities and then express them through how we eat.  Very few people in the modern West eat one cuisine or live within one culinary construct.  Being Kosher/Soul is about melding the histories, tastes, flavors, and Diasporic wisdom of being Black and being Jewish.  Both cultures express many of their cultural and spiritual values through the plate and Kosher/Soul is about that ongoing journey.  

The Cooking Gene  is Michael’s personal mission to document the connection between food history and family history from Africa to America, from slavery to freedom.  Begun in 2011, the project successfully garnered funding and significant media attention in 2012 to initiate a journey known as The Southern Discomfort Tour.  The project and tour continue as Michael visits sites of cultural memory, does presentations on his journey, and visits places critical to his family history while conducting genealogical and genetic research to discover his roots and food heritage.  Michael believes that Terroir is in Your Genes. Food is also extremely culturally connected and inherently economic and political.  It is a proving ground for racial reconciliation and healing and dialogue.  The Cooking Gene seeks to connect the whole of the Southern food family–with cousins near and far–by drawing all of us into the story of how we got here and where we are going.

Looking for my Great-Grandfather's Land Deed, with Genealogist Lon Outen, Camden, SC

Photo by JWD

18 Responses to About Afroculinaria

  1. Saffron says:

    Would love to interview you!
    @SacredFoodGuru: twitter
    sacredfoodguru@gmail.com: email
    sacredfoodguru.com: web

    blessings

  2. Laura Weldon says:

    Hi, Michael!
    I met you when you gave a presentation last fall here at the Dorchester County Historical Society in Dorchester County, Maryland. I graduated with my bachelors in history and now I’m working on my Masters concentrating in African-American history. I hope everything is well with you and hope to see you again soon. I have shared your link with my sister Peggy, a PH.D candidate in Agro-ecology and sustainable farming at the University of New Hampshire. I expect she’ll send you a reply as well! Best of everything to you!

  3. Gerri Williams says:

    Michael, wanting to re-connect with you.
    I’m now working as a research associate at UDC’s College of Ag, Urban Sustainability and Enviro Science, still with WPFW and the enviro show EcoShock. I also have a new website and blog. Please contact. Peace and blessings.

  4. Karen Olsen says:

    Are you still selling “Fighting Old Nep?”

  5. Zakiya says:

    I just happened upon your blog and boy what treat! I look forward to following your yummy entries.

  6. Roma says:

    I read an article about you and your culinary adventures in South Carolina and I was wondering if you came across any work by Seawright ’55. I have a set of beautiful note cards that have pen and ink drawings of slavery times and life around the living quarters. Each card has a different scene and recipe. I would like to know more about the artist.

  7. What a wonderful piece of work! I certainly hope to meet you or discuss with you one of these day. I have launched Afro Fusion Cuisine, a concept to share and discuss food culture and cooking recipes from a West African Perspective. http://www.learnafricancuisine.com and http://www.afrofusionbrands.com. I hope to connect soon!
    Yollande

  8. Beatriz Golden-Hayes says:

    Hello Michael,

    A wonderful friend sent me your letter to Paul Deen and I thought it was one of the best pieces of writing that I have read in a long time. I am a graduate student in Education and a chef and culinary historian and instructor. I graduate in August and plan to design a course I’ve been trying to do for 5 years about the migration of food from Africa, South America and the Caribbean and how it all connects in North America. I am beginning my history in the 1st century and moving on from there. I am calling it the Caribbean Connection, connecting the foods of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean. Culturally I am half Bengali and half African American/German. My mother’s parents migrated from India and settled in Trinidad just before she was born so I cook from an Afro-Indo-Caribbean perspective. I would love to meet you some day and just sit and “shoot the breeze” about culinary history and food stuff. I am going to check out your website and I look forward to reading more from you.
    Best,
    Beatriz Golden-Hayes
    Dinner At Eight

  9. linda tarr says:

    Your response is as complicated and interesting as Southern cuisine and humanity itself. Thank you for calling Ms. Deen out in proper context, while keeping your heart open and offering a gracious invitation. That’s the way things get better.
    Maybe we could, across this country, have some good meals together and talk about how to fix this voting rights act mess.
    Linda

  10. You are a genius and I am so grateful that I have discovered you and this blog!

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  13. Hello Michael, I am looking forward to seeing you at Swarthmore College. I am interested in food and religion (I teach a course on this topic) and have written about African American religious diversity, including magic, Judaism, Africana traditions, etc. I’d like to learn more about religion and diaspora foodways. Thanks to Prof. Dorsey for inviting you!

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  15. Suzanne Saida Bruneau says:

    Harambee Brother, Glad to know you are out their.Our ancestors always find a vessel for expression.Let us honour them with food.

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