The Cooking Gene: Our Press Release

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Michael W. Twitty 

Phone: 240-330-9291

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? “Southern Discomfort” Tour Back to the Old South
An African American Culinary Historian Searches for his Family’s Food Roots and Slaveowners.

Washington, D.C. –From May through July 2012, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty will travel from Maryland to Louisiana tracing his ancestry across the South while he cooks up the story of enslaved people in America.  Visiting over fifty Southern locales, the core of the journey will follow two tracks searching for the plantations and gravesites of his enslaved ancestors as well as sites of culinary memory and slavery. The “Southern Discomfort Tour” will additionally feature contemporary issues that stem from this important legacy.

The Southern Discomfort Tour, which has already gained national recognition and was recently featured in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette (here), will draw attention to the plight of African American farmers and feature community service projects focused on healthier eating and increasing food justice. The Tour will also use the story of the African heritage of Southern food to promote racial reconciliation and healing.

Food Historian Michael Twitty set upon his journey to answer the question, if an African American culinary historian were able to trace his story through food back through slavery to West and Central Africa, could he break bread with the people who owned his family?

“I believe everybody should occupy their heritage.” Twitty said.  “I hope The Cooking Gene more than open people’s eyes about slavery through my family’s story, but, even more I hope it inspires them to repair the broken world that was its consequence—and we want to show people how to do that. This Southern Discomfort, sets out to contextualize the African American contribution to American foodways and give honor to all enslaved African Americans.”

Michael W. Twitty is a culinary historian, Jewish educator and living history professional from the Washington D.C. area.  He has given over 125 presentations about the complexities of history, identity, race and religion for the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, Colonial Williamsburg and the Symposium on Food and Cookery at St. Catherine’s College of Oxford University England. For complete details about the Tour participants, route, schedule, venues and opportunities to interact with the journey–visit:

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