Cooking Gene Spice Collection by Michael W. Twitty
SHIPS MARCH 2021
Named for Ayuba Ibn Sulayman, a Fulani noble who was captured, enslaved brought to Maryland, emancipated and sent back to his home in Futa Djallon in Guinea; and Duchess Quamino, an enslaved and later free Black woman, born in Ghana in 1739 who was an esteemed baker and cook in colonial Rhode Island. I wanted to celebrate two Black lives that represent both resistance and cultural persistence. So few lives of West and Central Africans in early America are documented and I wanted these two Ancestors to stand in for the thousands who would give rise to a nation within a nation.
Based on my travels in 8 nations in contemporary West Africa, this part of the collection is inspired by the spicy, ruddy, earthy flavors this region of Africa is known for. Think peanut-based groundnut stew or grilled suya–a type of West African kabob dish, specifically from the southern Sahel and savanna, the kind of foods that Ayuba would have known in his homeland; or the okra soups and leafy green dishes and fish or grilled seafood or corn Duchess knew in Fante land. It’s a nice addition to Jollof rice or to finish fried plantains without being overpowering.