Before the pandemic, Michael Twitty found himself visiting Ghanaian chop bars in his travels around Ghana. As he watched people chopping onions and peppers by hand, he reflected on his own grandmother and culinary upbringing. He also saw — nearly everywhere he went — a pot of rice, a dish that’s come to define part of his culinary career.
Twitty’s new book, Rice, links the proliferation of rice across the South to its African origins. Recognizing the ubiquity of rice in Asia, Latin America, and other parts of the world, Twitty doesn’t claim Africans invented rice; instead, he presents a forgotten and often ignored history of African influence in how rice is cultivated, prepared, and served throughout the South and the world.
“It has so often been told, much like barbecue and other areas of our food culture, that we're [Black Americans] tertiary, we're not primary,” said Twitty. “And I think it's still important that people realize that, that's not how this goes — that we're the center of this history.”