[INTERVIEW] Michael Twitty Searches For His Roots on "Southern Discomfort Tour"

[INTERVIEW] Michael Twitty Searches For His Roots on "Southern Discomfort Tour"

Culinary Historian Aims to Learn About His Enslaved Ancestors Through Food

[INTERVIEW] Michael Twitty Searches For His Roots on "Southern Discomfort Tour"

sharecroppers’ rations and go to the store and buy white bread, white flour, white salt, white sugar --we went from foods with color to foods without color. Isn’t that an ironic twist?  In freedom we left behind healthier foods.  It’s not just true for black people, but many of us went from simple agrarian diets [that were native to us in West Africa] to buying food at a store that isn’t healthy for you.

But the benefit that we have in 2012 is to make the better choices -- in the food we eat and in our policies.  And if we fail to hold this nation accountable and we fail to hold ourselves accountable, that’s on us.

EBONY:  When the Tour is over, what do you hope to have achieved?

MT:  I want to write the culinary version of Roots. I want to show people that our culture our culinary culture is ennobling, and that it carries with us stories of our persistence, our optimism our gastronomic erudition. People sometimes eat to eat, but they don’t think about what it means. I want that to change. I want people to be able to grow their own food cook their own food have recipes pass them down reflect on histories of health and heritage. I’m making better choices for myself and I want to show people that its tough, but you can do it too.

I want more folks talking about combining genealogy with food, and not just passing down a chart of when someone was born, married and died. I want us to contextualize our family histories so that it’s rich so that future generations will possess those stories and will always have life as long as those stories are being told. 

And there is some selfishness in this project, too. A Ghanaian proverb says “the human being came to seek a good name and nothing else.”  Maybe when we find our heritage, we can live up to that.

You can support Michael on his Southern Discomfort Tour by giving a donation here

Brooke Obie writes the award-winning blog, DCDistrictDiva.com. Follow her on Twitter @DCDistrictDiva.

Stay in the Know
Sign up for the Ebony Newsletter