Do you have the cooking gene? Intersectionality is part of our story.

Cooking Gene_Michael Twitty

Do you have the cooking gene?
Intersectionality is part of our story.

Liz Pearl @PK Press

Michael W. Twitty is the inspiring author of an engaging new memoir: The Cooking Gene ‒ A Journey through African American Culinary History in the Old South. Also, he’s an entertaining chef, Judaica teacher, culinary historian, TED speaker, popular blogger and acclaimed foodie. Twitty is witty, captivating the audience at Toronto’s dynamic City Shul with soulful stories from his African American / Jewish / Gay intersectionality; as well as educating us about the circuitous geographic and cultural history of black-eyed peas including African, the Old South and Jewish traditions.  The food journey from oppression to freedom is a central theme of his fascinating narrative.

We all enjoyed tasty samples of his signature recipe of black-eyed peas (aka most popular legume worldwide) hummus; lots of fresh garlic and lemon juice are the trick, and a pinch of authentic Jamaican hot sauce. Delicious! Ancient, traditional, wholesome and nutritious – Soul Food. To be included on my Shabbat menu this Friday.

Toronto is home to an incredibly diverse Jewish community, certainly a welcome evolution from several decades ago, when I first moved to Toronto. The City Shul is a gem in The 6ix – an inclusive spiritual centre reflecting the awesome colorful diversity of the urban Toronto Jewish community culture. I look forward to visiting again for future innovative events and riveting speakers.

Honestly, I love to cook and yet I’m not a huge fan of classic cookbooks, however this hybrid memoir all-about cuisine really appeals to me, and I’m certain the fusion recipes are appetizing. The colourful Cooking Gene is Twitty’s first book in a trilogy of intriguing personal narratives exploring his unique identity, heritage and distinct cuisine. The subsequent volumes speak to his Jewish soul and gay identity. His next enticing memoir titled Kosher Soul promises to deliver more anecdotes and creative recipes filled with Jewish flavor.

Twitty is a charming character with an infectious smile and a knack for sharing stories, wisdom, and his favourite delicacies and recipes for us to devour. Sprinkled with familiar Hebrew and Yiddish expressions, delivered with a generous portion of heart and soul.

For more info and recipes visit the African culinary diaspora and

My laugh-out-loud moment erupted when Twitty light-heartedly described himself as the succulent dark raisin in an (Ashkenazi) sweet noodle kugel. Twitty captivated the audience with humorous tales and enticing images of soul food, including: classic Southern fried chicken and sweet yams, Mom’s homestyle pot roast and collard greens-filled kreplach! A mouthwatering nexus of spicy, savoury and sweet.

“The Cooking Gene is the confluence of several major areas of interest that I hold dear – family history, Southern/African American food history, the cultural politics of identity, and intercultural connections and historical legacies.” – Twitty

The intersection of our heritage, our culture, our cuisine as well as our collective love of food certainly provide a wealth of food for thought to be included in our personal narratives and family histories.

P.S. I’m pretty sure I too, have the cooking gene, a story for another day.


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