Cooking in the American south

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The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South. By Michael Twitty. Amistad; 464 pages; $28.99.

The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South. By John Edge. Penguin Press; 384 pages; $28.

SOUTHERN American food’s most famous ambassador is Harland Sanders, the white-coated, goateed marketing genius whose recipe for pressure-fried chicken became Kentucky Fried Chicken. Sanders hated the chain’s food, calling its heavily breaded birds a “damn fried doughball put on top of some chicken”. What he loved was the chicken of his youth, which had almost certainly been prepared by black hands. Southern food, explained Edna Lewis, America’s most lyrical cookery writer, is “mostly black, because blacks—black women and black men—did most of the cooking in private homes, hotels and on the railroads.”

Michael Twitty runs with this thesis in “The Cooking Gene”, a…Continue reading

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