When you think of the trendiest new must-visit place to go with friends, chances are you think of a club or a brunch spot before you think of a museum.  But the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is changing up the museum scene with exhibits that you can touch, smell, and even eat.  Plus, it’s in a pretty cool part of Brooklyn, so you can always hit up a new restaurant for brunch after you work up an appetite in the museum’s first exhibit – Flavor: Making It and Faking It

 

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New York is a fairly health-conscious city, with new organic and speciality cafes sprouting up every day, so we were especially interested in the MOFAD’s mission on their website, which included the statement:  “Informed eaters are better eaters. They make better choices for their taste buds, health, community, and environment.”  The MOFAD doesn’t judge – you won’t leave feeling guilty about all of the snacks you love to indulge in – but it’s very informative and fun at the same time. 

The exhibit begins with a video clip narrated by Ted Allen (for those of you who are not Food Network junkies, he is the host of Chopped and the author of several cookbooks) explaining how taste and smell are closely connected, and giving a little preview of what you will explore in the exhibit. 

 

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After the video introduction, you delve into the history of the flavor industry, starting with vanilla.  Vanilla is so common now that it’s synonymous with “boring,” but it used to be a luxury.  In the 1850s, chemists discovered that the chemical vanillin gave vanilla beans most of their flavor, and soon after chemists began creating vanillin in their labs.  There are a few posters explaining the chemical makeup of flavors like lemon, both artificial and natural, and it’s simple enough to understand even if you aren’t a chemistry expert.    

 

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As you walk through the exhibit, you’ll notice that it looks like a typical museum. The design slightly echoes the MoMA, with its vintage ads on display, except for a few important differences: dispensers that distribute flavor pellets that you can taste – including pumpkin spice! – and scent diffusor machines that let you smell the essential oils that flavor your favorite treats.  You can also smell all of the flavors that mix together to make Coca-Cola, like orange, lime, cinnamon, and vanilla.  You can even taste MSG, which is responsible for making almost all of your favorite junk food taste delicious, but something you might never be able to try on its own.  We don’t want to give everything away because you should really visit for yourself!  Overall, the experience at the Museum of Food and Drink is informative, tasty, and anything but boring. 

 

 

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