A revolutionary at the Fort Snelling hearth
Mark your calendar for Saturday, then head to Fort Snelling, where Michael Twitty, the historical interpreter and scholar of African-American food traditions, will conduct cooking demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the commandant’s house kitchen, where enslaved people worked before the Civil War. These demos depict traditional techniques and recipes, as Twitty does for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he is its first “Revolutionary in Residence.”
The James Beard award-winning writer’s first volume, “The Cooking Gene,” won Beard’s Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize. His blog, Afroculinaria.com, is the first devoted to African-American historic foodways and their legacy. He’s also a TED fellow, and was named one of “Fifty People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living magazine.
And if that’s not enough to convince you to hop in the car for a visit to the military fort, whose history includes an unexpected breadth of Minnesota’s past, from Native Americans, soldiers and veterans to immigrants and the enslaved, then consider this: Twitty is one fascinating interpreter.
The demo takes place at Historic Fort Snelling, 200 Tower Av., St. Paul, and is free to members of the Minnesota Historical Society or $6-$12 with admission to the fort for nonmembers. Tickets are available at tinyurl.com/ydflczco.
At 2 p.m., Twitty will sign copies of his book in the visitor center. “The Cooking Gene” examines Southern cuisine and its ties to Africa, as well as Twitty’s personal journey to discover his ancestral roots, from what he calls “Africa to America, from slavery to freedom,” an effort that he referred to as his “Southern Discomfort Tour.”
Twitty first rose to public attention when he wrote an online letter to Food Network star Paula Deen in 2013, after a former employee had reported hearing racist language from her in the past. In his letter, which went viral, Twitty invited Deen to join him at a fundraiser dinner for a historical North Carolina plantation, which once had 900 slaves, as an opportunity for reconciliation. (She did not attend.) Given the depth of his knowledge (read Twitty’s book!), his Saturday demo will undoubtedly be informative.
A gathering in honor of Julia Child
What better way to celebrate a 100th birthday for Julia Child than by cooking from one of her two most famous volumes, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. II”? Sur la Table Cooking School in Woodbury (295 Radio Dr.) does the honors with a hands-on class on Aug. 15, with recipes that include a pan-roasted beef tenderloin, potatoes Anna and strawberry brioche cake with chantilly cream. The class, from 7-9 p.m., includes a copy of the book for each participant. Cost is $85 per person; register at surlatable.com; call 651-702-5400 for more information. As Julia would say, “Bon appétit!”
An empanada from Chile
You know you need a taste of empanadas from Chile. The folks at Empanada Trudy — Jorge and Laura Saavedra — are ready to show off their work in a pop-up gathering at Kindred Kitchen (1210 W. Broadway, Mpls.) on Friday from 6-9 p.m. Cost is $12 (such a deal!) and includes a variety of fillings, including a dessert variation of dulce de leche and Bananella (banana and hazelnut cream). The empanadas are inspired by the family matriarch Gertrudis, or Trudy as she is known, and are all hand-shaped and crimped, and baked to a distinctive mottled finish. To buy tickets, go to tinyurl.com/yazssl55.
A celebration of markets
In honor of National Farmers Market Week, the St. Paul Farmers Market, Lowertown location, will hold a Green, Local and Sustainable Cooking competition for chefs, with judges from the American Culinary Federation on Aug. 4-5. The events start at 7 a.m. on Aug. 4 and 8 a.m. on Aug. 5.
LEE SVITAK DEAN