Culinary historian Michael Twitty visits Purdue

Culinary historian and living history interpreter Michael Twitty visited Purdue University to speak on foodways of enslaved Africans and African Americans.  Free and open to the public, this event was sponsored the Purdue University Black Cultural Center as part of its observation of Black History Month.

Twitty describes himself as a “historic interpreter interested in African, African American, African Diaspora, Southern, and Jewish foodways.” He also is a food blogger who runs Afroculinaria. The blog “addresses food’s critical role in the development and definition of African American civilization and the politics of consumption and cultural ownership that surround it,” the blog’s website states.

“Mr. Twitty is an expert in not only colonial and antebellum cooking but also in knowledge of relevant heritage breed livestock, and wild flora and fauna used by enslaved Africans and their descendants.”


Pecan Crusted Catfish

(Serves 4)

1 cup all purpose flour

½ cup whole milk

1 large egg

1½ Tablespoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

4 8-ounce catfish fillets

¾ cup finely chopped pecans

½ cup Panko bread crumbs

¼ cup vegetable oil

Lemon slices, for garnish


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place flour in a shallow bowl or dish

Whisk together the milk and eggs in shallow bowl to blend.

Combine the pecans and Panko in a shallow bowl or dish

In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Stir well to combine and season the catfish fillets to taste

Dredge the catfish fillets in flour to coat lightly, shaking off excess

Dip into milk mixture

Coat both sides of fish with pecan mixture.

Refrigerate fish fillets for at least fifteen minutes before cooking

Heat the oil in sauté pan over medium-high heat

Add fish fillets to pan, presentation side down

Cook until nuts begin to brown, about two minutes

With a fish spatula, turn fish over in the sauté pan and place in the preheated oven

Cook until fish is opaque in the center, about eight to ten minutes.

Transfer catfish fillets to plates

Garnish with lemon slices and serve immediately

Black-eyed Pea Fritters

(Makes 20 Servings)


3½ cups cooked black-eyed peas (drained thoroughly)

2 cups fine diced yellow onion

2 large eggs

1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

3 to 4 tablespoons water

1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

¼ cup fine ground cornmeal

Vegetable oil, for frying


Purée peas and onion in a food processor until as smooth as possible

Blend in egg, cayenne, salt, and pepper

With motor running, add three tablespoons water and blend until smooth and fluffy

Add remaining water if necessary to form a batter just thin enough to drop from a spoon

Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate for one hour

Preheat the oven to 200° F

Remove the batter from the refrigerator

Add the bell pepper and cornmeal

Beat with a wooden spoon for two minutes.

In a large sauté pan over high heat, heat the vegetable oil until hot but not smoking

Lower the temperature medium high

In batches, spoon the batter into the oil, one tablespoon at a time

Fry until golden brown on each side, about two minutes

If necessary, adjust the temperature to ensure that the fritters do not cook too quickly

Transfer the fritters to a paper towel–lined plate and allow them to drain

Transfer the drained fritters to a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm

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