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'Kosher/Soul' Project Links Jewish and African-American Food Traditions

Culinary historian Michael Twitty preparing food in a traditional slave kitchen.

No matter what ethnicity you identify with, your cultural traditions almost certainly include food. It could be a traditional meal you eat at a holiday, or the foods you grew up eating at your grandparents’ house.

But culinary historian Michael Twitty believes there is a distinction shared by the two culinary traditions he identifies with. Twitty is both African-American and Jewish, and his “Kosher/Soul” project makes the point that the two traditions use food to tell a story in a way that most other traditions do not.

"In terms of Judaism, food is used to tell stories, it's used to inculcate narratives. It's used to impact Jewish culture through kashrut," he says. "In African-American culture, history, memory, food preferences all reflect a historical and cultural journey that goes back long before the slave trade, back into the mist of our own human experience." 

Twitty will talk about “Kosher/Soul: Black and Jewish ‘Identity Cooking'" at Centennial Hall in the central Milwaukee Public Library. The talk is presented by UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Jewish Studies.