Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Our Global Kitchen Exhibit Wows All Senses

Yesterday, Dan and I had the great fun of visiting the American Museum of Natural History and their recently opened Our Global Kitchen exhibit.  I've been hearing lots of intriguing things about it, and was fully prepared to nourish my mind with surprising food facts, many of which were downright astounding.  As part of its global nature, I was excited to see Queens represented in one of the films shown during the exhibit, of an Indian community in Flushing, preparing a true royal feast for one of their biggest food festivals of the year.  It was wonderful and also quite natural to see a community in Queens showcased, proving to other New Yorkers how culinarily rich our borough is.  Aside from that, there is just so much to learn here!

Format - It was wonderful to see the exhibit in a truly interactive format, as it created a natural progression of the all-encompassing world of food - starting with crop production and the evolution of produce, fish and livestock, to specific cultural food nuances, and even provocative global food facts about consumption (or worse...waste).

I loved that even though there's a lot to absorb and read, it's really easily digestible and user friendly, as all tid-bits are broken out into short sentences, so you can skip around easily and browse a certain area quite quickly or then spend more time with another.  

The fact that the exhibit is made up of mixed media, including illustration, photography, sculptures, ancient artifacts, and most interesting to me, modern technology was a total treat for the senses.  From looking at a human-sized illustration of an Atlantic Cod just 100 years ago, to making our own recipe for Tamales, information is presented really intelligently and in such a way that it keeps you engaged and hungry for more (pun intended).

A Real Kitchen - And in the middle of all this interesting "stuff" is a real demo kitchen, brought to us by Whole Foods, in which you can talk to on-hand food experts, and also take part in fun food experimentation.  I particularly enjoyed a little challenge about flavor vs. taste we did with a simple jelly bean, plugging our noses to see how that would influence what we actually tasted.  The results were surprising!

My Highlights - While I loved the exhibit as a whole and would no doubt return again, I particularly enjoyed seeing:

  • What Michael Phelps eats for breakfast each day
  • The obesity index in several nations around the world, and the weekly food expenditure for a typical family
  • The size and shape of fruits and veggies now versus several hundred years ago (look at those square melons above!)
  • The Aztec marketplace display
  • The fun smelling stations that are pretty darn accurate
Continuing the Conversation - I admired the juxtaposition of tradition with modernity in this exhibit and especially loved the wall of Instagram feeds, pulling from various exhibit goers (including me!) If you'd like to participate and be a part of this exhibit too, simply tag your favorite food photo, showcasing ways that you celebrate food with the #celebratefood hash tag.

Our Global Kitchen is officially open now until August 11th, so you have plenty of opportunities to pop in and check it out.  Here's a short video to pique your interest further:

American Museum of Natural History - Central Park West at 79th Street, New York NY 10024
B/C Trains to 81st Street or 1 Train to 79th Street

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