Photo Credit: Michael Twitty for MasterClass Courtesy
MasterClass Announces Class on Tracing African-American Roots Through Food
With years of research and strong knowledge of the culinary habits and practices of African American culture, two-time James Beard Award-winning writer Michael Twitty will teach a class on tracing African-American roots through food. The lessons will be streamed in MasterClass, the streaming platform that offers online classes created for students of all skill levels. Twitty, who is an African American writer, culinary historian and educator from the Washington, D.C., area, will teach members how food can help them discover their unique cultural and familial history.
He is the author of Afroculinaria, a culinary history blog dedicated to exploring and educating readers on African and African American foodways. In 2018, he launched the book The Cooking Gene, which tracks his ancestry through food from slavery to freedom; it received the 2017 James Beard Award for Best Writing as well as Book of the Year—making him the first Black author so awarded. His latest book Rice: A Savor the South Cookbook was published in 2021.
“Michael is a culinary historian who has revolutionized the way we understand what we eat,” said David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass, in a press release. “He roots his class in his personal journey, teaching members how to see food as the lens and vehicle for understanding who we are, where we come from and how to preserve a family legacy,” he added.
Twitty will teach members how to discover, track and document their family food histories through storytelling, genealogy and writing.
“By uncovering the unspoken truths of African American food culture and its influence throughout history, Twitty shares that in order to pass down our food legacies, we must confront the good and bad histories of our ancestors. Using his book The Cooking Gene as an example, he will teach members why it is critical to preserve and promote family food history,” stated Masterclass’ press office.
Besides teaching African-American roots through Food, the historian promises to break down the meaning of “foodways,” which are inherited cultural and social practices surrounding food, and share the history of foodways during the transatlantic slave trade and the antebellum South. He will also explore the role cultural appropriation and environmental racism have in perpetuating an unhealthy diet that denies African Americans credit for their own culinary creations. The students will walk away with a new appreciation of preserving food experiences past and present to not only uncover their food story but deepen their relationship with their family and culture.
Providing members with a step-by-step guide on how to interview family members, Twitty will share how to confront their DNA story. He will also discuss authentic soul food and teach members how to cook traditional recipes such as black-eyed pea fritters and okra, corn and tomato “stewp.”
“As someone with many intersections of identities—Black, gay, Jewish, Southern, male—all of those things put together means that if my experience is something rich and worthy of dialogue, so is yours,” Twitty said. “Understanding the culinary journey of our ancestors gives us something to be proud of, and in my class, I will teach members how to preserve their ancestors’ legacy and continue telling their story through food.”
According to MasterClass, Twitty’s class is available exclusively on the platform, where subscribers get unlimited access to all 150+ instructors with an annual membership.