I picked this book up expecting to learn a lot about southern cooking. That I did indeed, but it's 416 pages should have clued me into the fact that I was about to learn so much more than just a specific type of cuisine. Twitty takes you through unspoken US history, that of slavery, and of the food his ancestors carried through the different forced labors they survived. From rice, to tobacco and corn, and taking many side journeys, he gives voice to this cuisine that was birthed in Africa and brought here unwillingly, but as a way to keep an unbroken chain to home.
Twitty is not afraid to call out the racism that exists in the south, but he does it while reminding those he calls out of their relationship; "The old south is where people are far more likely to be related to one another than not. It is where everybody has a Cherokee, a Creek, a Chickasaw, a Seminole, or a Choctaw lurking in their maternal blood lines but nobody knows where the broad noses or big asses come from. It is a place where dark gums and curly hair get chalked up to lost Turks and meandering mystics but Nigeria and Gambia are long forgotten, unlike everything else that is perpetually and unremittingly remembered… The old south is a forgotten little Africa but nobody speaks of it that way. Everything black folks gave to the aristocracy and plain folks became spun gold in the hands of others- from banjos to barbecue to Elvis to rice and cotton know how. Everything we black Southerners kept for ourselves, often the unwanted it dregs and markers of resistance, felt like markers of backwardness, scratches of the uncivilized, Idolatry, and the state of being lost. And yet I love that old south, and loved it fiercely in all her funkiness and dread. To be honest, I never hated white people for their strange relationship to us, their colored kith and kin, but I grew up with the suspicion that they had no clue just how much of us there was in their family trees and stories and bloodlines and on their groaning tables. Maybe if they did, we would know less enmity towards one another."