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Michael Twitty's 'Koshersoul'

James Beard award-winning author Michael Twitty explores the intersection of food and his Black, Jewish identity in his new book.
James Beard award-winning author Michael Twitty explores the intersection of food and his Black, Jewish identity in his new book.

Best estimates suggest there are around 140,000 African-American Jewish people living in the United States. James Beard award-winning writer and historian Michael Twitty uses the term “border-crossers” to describe the community, which includes himself.

“We are people who have always existed but have never really had a voice,” he writes in his new book, “Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew.”

Twitty continues:

Jewish food and Black food crisscross each other throughout history. Both are cuisines where homeland and exile interplay. Ideas and emotions and ingredients— satire, irony, longing, resistance—and you have to eat the food to extract that meaning. The food of both diasporas depends on memory. One memory is the sweep of the people’s journey, and the other is the little bits and the pieces of individual lives shaped by ancient paths and patterns. The food is an archive, a keeper of secrets.

We sit down with Twitty to talk about food, tradition, and identity.

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Avery Kleinman