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2017 has, collectively, been few people’s ideas of a fun year. Still, it’s welcomed a wealth of excellent journalism.
When Michael Twitty cooked meat dressed in the outfit that slaves wore in the South, more than one memory of slavery flashed through his mind.
I worked in a world—Hebrew schools—that was overwhelmingly female, white, upper middle class, Northern/Northeast, heterosexual and born into the Jewish community bubble. I was absolutely none of those things. I made a sport of grinning and bearing through my differences.
In the past few years, the words “kushi” and “shvartze” have enjoyed, let’s say, an unfortunate comeback. A few years ago, a prominent rabbinic scholar came under fire for suggesting that Jews should not commit crimes such as molestation — not necessarily because they were wrong, but because they would be put in jail with “shvartzes.” Most recently, the Hasidic singer Mordechai Ben David, dubbed “King of Jewish Music,” struck a sour note by deriding the outgoing president, Barack Obama, saying: “Do you know when there will be peace? In a few weeks, when there will be a new president in the United States and the kushi goes home.”
A food historian, Michael Twitty, might be an unlikely voice of popular protest, but his blog, Afroculinaria, was one of the sites that people went to for passionate commentary on #BlackLivesMatter and the homophobic Florida nightclub shooting in June.
Michael Twitty is black, Jewish and a self-described historian of food. He traces the links between his grandmother’s soul food — and ours.
The African American chef in the rainbow kippah looked up from arranging his implements to survey the crowd assembling before him. “What about the people coming in?” he murmured, and was told, “We’re out of chairs.”