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Christopher Wilson’s Blog Post 9/6

Michael Twitty’s (2017) The Cooking Gene conjured up a series of memories from my upbringing in a Southern, black home. For me, my identity is rooted in the foods my family cooked and in the responsibility my family has in teaching the younger generations our culinary secrets. Similar to Twitty (2017), the intersections of genetics and African American heritage dishes- also known as Soul Food- always leaves me yearning to learn more about my ancestry and heritage with every Christmas dinner my family and I prepare on Christmas Eve as tradition. Yet, with every year that passes, I become concerned when a member of my immediate family- including myself- forgets how to prepare certain dishes that were once taught to us by the now-deceased members of our family, our ancestors. I am concerned because with every consecutive dish forgotten means that subsequent generations will forget not only those special seasonings used to coat the catfish in or those mental notes on how much sugar to add to the cornbread mixture, but that they will also forget our deceased family members- our ancestors- and the narratives they carried with them. In part, I feel this is because of the rising pressure for members of society to spend more time working and building wealth for their families that they do not have the time nor energy to be culinary historians like Michael Twitty. So, they do what they can and what is convenient- spend money on various fast food franchises to feed their family’s appetite so much so that the food native to that family’s history and culture tastes out of place when it meets that person’s taste buds again. This only leads me to be more concerned about the survival rate of African American food withstanding the effects of time.

 

In response to Dr. Bezio’s fourth podcast and the readings from Twitty’s (2017) The Cooking Gene, I have a few pressing questions: How can we protect our cultural foods and the histories that come along with them, from the rise of globalization? While I firmly believe that intercultural communication and collaboration is something our society needs more of, how would the mixing and acceptance of different cultures affect the way we eat, cook, and even remember our foods that are aspects of our identity and ancestral history? Could this possibly fuel the erasure of foods and ancestral narratives for minority groups? I am in no authoritative position to give answers to these questions; however, I am simply curious to know what other people think about the future of the foods we continuously cook with our families over holidays, for celebrations, and during certain times of the year.

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2 Comments

  1. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    It is extremely true that American consumerism has caused an explosion in the fast food industry. Until I had read this chapter it didn’t occur to me that the more fast food bought, not only harms Americans in terms of health, but also damages and slowly replaces the previous cultural dishes people would always eat. In some ways fast food is simply the way that culture is evolving towards, but it also seems extremely important to maintain dishes of the past to stay connected to the society that came before us.

  2. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I too never thought of fast food as replacing cultural dishes that people eat, but it makes perfect sense. The people who are most impacted by the rise of unhealthy fast food are poor people and people of color. Thus not only making them vastly unhealthier than other’s but it also can destroy the lineage of great food made by their ancestors.

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