Unorthodox Live in D.C.

Ep: 166: Food historian Michael Twitty and California’s newly elected Congresswoman Katie Porter

January 24, 2019

This episode was recorded at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. Thanks to our friends at ARJE for making this show happen.

Our Jewish guest is food historian Michael Twitty, author of the James Beard Award-winning book The Cooking Gene. He returns to the show to tell us about his years as a Hebrew school teacher, when he was often the first black person his students interacted with, and his next book project, Kosher Soul, which focuses on his Jewish identity. He also explains what ptcha is, and why it’s one of Tablet’s 100 Most Jewish Foods.

Our gentile of the week is Congresswoman Katie Porter, the newly elected representative of California’s 45th District and the first Democrat to hold the seat since it was created in 1953. She tells us about dining at Yale’s kosher kitchen with our own Mark Oppenheimer back in college, how she’s trying to help furloughed government workers during the shutdown, and her life as a single mother now shlepping between California and Washington, D.C., all the time. Her question for the panel is why Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish Arbor Day, falls in the dead of winter.

We’re heading to the West Coast! We’ll be at Adat Shalom in Los Angeles Friday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. for a special Shabbat show with actor and director Lauren Miller Rogen, Black-ish producer Jonathan Groff, and Iranian-Jewish philanthropist Rachel Sumekh; get your tickets here. Then we’ll be at the Stroum JCC in the Seattle area Feb. 2 for a live show with Dan Savage of the Savage Lovecast and Rabbi Will Berkovitz of Jewish Family Service. Get your tickets here.

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This episode is sponsored by JChef, the new kosher meal kit. Go to and use coupon code Unorthodox30 to get 30 percent off your first order.

This episode is also sponsored by Harry’s. Get a free trial shave set at

Additional support comes from Hebrew College. The Jewish community needs rabbis who are creatively engaging with Jewish tradition, and Hebrew College’s rabbinical school is currently accepting applications. Visit to find out more.

Unorthodox is a smart, fresh, fun weekly take on Jewish news and culture hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick, and Liel Leibovitz. You can listen to individual episodes here or subscribe on iTunes.

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