Food is fundamental to our survival as a species, but it’s become more than just a necessity across time and cultures. In 2018, we grow it, cook it, share it with friends and family, post photos of it to Instagram and then—we eat it. But have you ever wondered how food and food culture got where it is today? Visitors will satisfy their intellectual appetite on this topic through seeing, touching, smelling and tasting in the new special exhibit FOOD: Our Global Kitchen, on view from June 9 through August 26, 2018, at Fernbank Museum of Natural History.
Throughout the exhibit, visitors will discover many fascinating facts— like that it was customary in ancient Rome to dine in reclining chairs, that melons grow in near-perfect cubes in Japan, that cats can’t taste sweet things, and that chocolate was once used as money in Mexico. FOOD: Our Global Kitchen has far more to offer than just factoids, though, as it explores the complex and intricate system that brings what we eat from farm to fork. In sections devoted to growing, transporting, cooking, eating, tasting, and celebrating, the exhibit illuminates the myriad ways that food is produced and moved throughout the world. While navigating this hands-on exhibit, visitors will experience the intersection of food, nature, culture, health, and history—and consider some of the most challenging issues of our time.
About the Exhibit
FOOD: Our Global Kitchen showcases how food is grown and distributed around the world and how it reflects culture and diversity. It also works to explore how humans have transformed food across countries and centuries, as well as the differences in how we experience flavor.
Highlights of the exhibit include:
- A life-size re-creation of a 16th-century Aztec marketplace
- Food Ships, an interactive game that demonstrates the challenges associated with transporting items like bananas, apples, tuna, and lamb around the world
- A “waste sculpture” containing the amount of food a U.S. family of four wastes per year: 1,656 pounds
- Signature dishes from around the world and how these have evolved through generations, from Korean kimchi to Moroccan tagine
- Smelling stations featuring scents such as lemon, lavender, thyme, and fennel, vital ingredients used in everything from candies to fish dishes to potent absinthe
- Utensils and cookware from around the globe, in addition to a selection of historic, classic, and even humorous cookbooks
- An interactive cooking table, where visitors “make” famous dishes eaten around the world
A demonstration kitchen will also allow visitors to explore the complexities of flavor and discover the biology of taste. Scheduled live programming in the kitchen will animate the experience through activities ranging from taste tests to dynamic cooking demonstrations and visits from local experts.
Visitors to FOOD can also look forward to:
- Discovering what a week’s worth of groceries includes for families from 16 different countries
- Exploring common breakfast foods from around the world, from Greek pancakes to Colombian changua soup
- Sitting down at the tables of some illustrious individuals throughout history, including Empress Livia of Rome, Mongolian ruler Kublai Khan, and author Jane Austen
- Looking at historic dishes, from Mohandas Gandhi’s childhood meal to Michael Phelps’s Olympian-sized breakfast
Food does more than keep us alive. It connects us to the land, to cultural heritage and to each other. FOODtakes visitors on a wide-ranging tour of foods that commemorate special occasions, including colorful Ukrainian Easter eggs and sugar skulls from Mexico’s Day of the Dead. A video invites visitors to join celebrations at a Thanksgiving dinner, a Chinese New Year, the Eid feast marking the end of Ramadan, Oktoberfest and the Hindu festival Ganesh Chaturthi.
FOOD: Our Global Kitchen is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org)
HOURS AND TICKETS: FOOD: Our Global Kitchen is included with Museum admission. Tickets are $20 for adults, $19 for seniors, $18 for children ages 3-12, free for children 2 and under, and free for Fernbank members. Fernbank After Dark tickets are $15 for general admission and $20 for general admission and a movie.
RELATED PROGRAMMING: Fernbank will host several programs to further explore the topic of food and culture, including:
FOOD-ology Days: June 9, July 7 and Aug. 4, 2018 (10am-1pm)
Experience samples, demonstrations, special appearances and more during these festival-inspired events focusing on culture, cuisine, sustainability and all things food-related.
Can We Eat Enough? Reflections on Modern Food Consumption Lecture: June 17, 2018 (4:30pm)
Gain a whole new approach to eating in the modern age with a lecture that is informed by biology, supported by philosophy and religion, and – best of all – is personally achievable.
Fernbank After Dark—Gastronomy: July 13, 2018 (7pm-11pm)
Learn not just how food is made across cultures, but why we enjoy it and how we consume it during this after-hours event for adults ages 21+, featuring science explorations, full museum access, live music, movies on the 4-story giant screen, and more.
Fernbank Museum of Natural History is located at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets and visitor information are available at fernbankmuseum.org or 404.929.6400.