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How to Talk About Race Through Food

In this video, MUNCHIES Editor-in-chief Helen Hollyman sits down with Michael Twitty, a culinary historian whose work centers on the antebellum slave kitchen, to discuss how he addresses race through food.

This week in "Mouth Full of South," editor-in-chief Helen Hollyman profiled Michael Twitty, a culinary historian who is, in no particular order, Orthodox-Jewish, African-American, and gay. Twitty's work focuses on the antebellum kitchen, where beloved comfort food classics such as BBQ pork, biscuits, and hoecakes originated. But as Twitty points out to diners who attend his "Southern Discomfort Tour" dinners—historical meals that Twitty, dressed in full period attire, cooks and serves in former plantations across the South—little attention is paid to the fact that these classic American foods were created and perfected by black slaves.

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"I'm using food as a way to discuss race as a person of color," Twitty says in the piece. "There's a gentleman's agreement in the South that is, 'Don't talk about race.' We can talk about Jesus and football, and even food, but don't talk about that."

Through his work—the Tour, but also his Cooking Gene Project and his blog, Afroculinaria—Twitty seeks to un-taboo that taboo. Here, Hollyman sits down with him to learn more about his efforts to address race through food.