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Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew

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“Twitty makes the case that Blackness and Judaism coexist in beautiful harmony, and this is manifested in the foods and traditions from both cultures that Black Jews incorporate into their daily lives…Twitty wishes to start a conversation where people celebrate their differences and embrace commonalities. By drawing on personal narratives, his own and others’, and exploring different cultures, Twitty’s book offers important insight into the journeys of Black Jews.”—Library Journal

“A fascinating, cross-cultural smorgasbord grounded in the deep emotional role food plays in two influential American communities.”—Booklist

The James Beard award-winning author of the acclaimed The Cooking Gene explores the cultural crossroads of Jewish and African diaspora cuisine and issues of memory, identity, and food.

In Koshersoul, Michael W. Twitty considers the marriage of two of the most distinctive culinary cultures in the world today: the foods and traditions of the African Atlantic and the global Jewish diaspora. To Twitty, the creation of African-Jewish cooking is a conversation of migrations and a dialogue of diasporas offering a rich background for inventive recipes and the people who create them.

The question that most intrigues him is not just who makes the food, but how the food makes the people. Jews of Color are not outliers, Twitty contends, but significant and meaningful cultural creators in both Black and Jewish civilizations. Koshersoul also explores how food has shaped the journeys of numerous cooks, including Twitty’s own passage to and within Judaism.

As intimate, thought-provoking, and profound as The Cooking Gene, this remarkable book teases the senses as it offers sustenance for the soul.

Koshersoul includes 48-50 recipes.

ISBN-13: 9780062891716

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 08-08-2023

Pages: 400

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

Michael W. Twitty is a noted culinary and cultural historian and the creator of Afroculinaria, the first blog devoted to African American historic foodways and their legacies. He has been honored by as one of the twenty greatest food bloggers of all time, and named one of the “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living and one of the “Five Cheftavists to Watch” by Twitty has appeared throughout the media, including on NPR’s The Splendid Table, and has given more than 250 talks in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in Ebony, the Guardian, and on He is also a Smith fellow with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a TED fellow and speaker, and the first Revolutionary in Residence at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Twitty lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Part I Berachah

1 Family History 3

2 The Numbers Game, or "Where the Kinfolk At?" 12

3 The Bus Ride, or "For the Last Time, This iss Why I'm Jewish!" 20

Mayseh: A Blessing on Strange Creatures 26

4 Yichus: Why I Love Jewish Food-The Honey on the Slate 32

5 Sit at the Welcome Table and Eat and be Satisfied: Black Food 38

Black Food as Jewish Food 38

Mayseh: The Exchange 49

Mayseh: The Bris, or "I Think I Have the Wrong House!" 54

Mayseh: "What Even are Those Things?" 57

Mayseh: "It's Chicken!" 61

Part II The Tablecloth

6 My Heart is in the East 69

Mayseh: "Shalom, Brother!" 73

Mayseh: "You have been Misinformed" 78

7 To Sir, with Ahavah 82

Mayseh: Katie-"I Feel Like Me" 86

Mayseh: Elliott's Tefillin 90

Mayseh: Sweet Potatoes 94

Mayseh; Truth, Reconciliation, and Repair 102

8 Kippa'ed While Black: Being a Black Jewish Man 106

Mayseh: "Get In!" 127

Mayseh: The World's Nicest White Lady 128

Part III Neshamah: A Soul Suite

9 Learning 133

Part IV Eruvim

10 People of the Land 143

Mayseh: Gardens-Landscapes of the Thriving Survivors 149

11 Keshet 158

Mayseh: Purple Velvet 160

Mayseh: Letter I Always Wanted to Write 166

Mayseh: Quadruple Queerness 171

Part V The Prepared Table

Mayseh: Chava's Query 183

Mayseh: My Afro-Ashkefardi Kitchen 190

12 Adon Olam to the Tune of Dixie: Southern Jewish Food 199

Mayseh: Driving Miss Daisy 216

13 The Griot from Blytheville: Dr. Marcie Cohen Ferris 220

Mayseh: The Other (White) Jews-The Koshersoul of Southern White Jews-by-Choice 227

Mayseh: A Southern Guide to Tashlich 234

Mayseh: Halal Soul Chef Shambra 236

14 The Cuisine of the Chocolate Chosen: Cooking Black and Jewish, a Kitchen Table Kibbitz 242

Epilogue: If I Were a Cookbook 258

Recipes 263

Menus and Other Koshersoul Ideas 331

More Koshersoul Ideas 347

Author's Note 351

Acknowledgments 355

Glossary 357

Bibliography 363