History Sizzles at National Museum of History
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History continues to explore food history in America with “Cooking Up History.” This monthly free public cooking program is held in its demonstration kitchen located on the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza in the museum’s Innovation Wing. A fully functional kitchen, unveiled in July 2015, is the first of its kind at the Smithsonian, and it connects food programming to the museum’s many objects and research initiatives surrounding food’s place in American history.
“Cooking Up History” is a 45-minute program that combines cooking demonstrations with conversations between chefs, culinary experts and the public. Once a month, at 2 p.m., the museum will showcase a guest chef and Smithsonian host Jessica Carbone as they prepare a recipe and discuss the history and traditions behind its ingredients, culinary techniques and other relevant topics. Visitors will have the opportunity to purchase a dish inspired by the recipes featured during the demonstrations in the museum’s Stars & Stripes Cafe.
The demonstration kitchen is the setting for live food demonstrations, discussions and cooking programs, as well as ticketed evening events, as part of the Smithsonian Food History Project.
“The kitchen is a wonderful extension of our food history research, collections and exhibitions,” said John Gray, museum director. “It brings visitors of all ages together for a different kind of experience around food history that can expand to discussions about the roles we all play in shaping the present and future of food in America.”
This spring, “Cooking Up History” will explore several different culinary traditions:
· Friday, April 8: “The Mexican American Table” will feature Amelia Morán Ceja, the president of Ceja Vineyards from Napa, Calif., who will share the signature flavors and styles of cooking she first learned from her grandmother in Jalisco, Mexico, including the art of making tortillas and salsa from scratch. Ceja will talk about her experiences as the daughter of vineyard workers in Napa, how she adjusted to American life and how she honors that heritage with her family-run winery in the heart of the Carneros wine district. She will conclude the program with recommendations on how to pair wine with Mexican food.
“Cooking Up History” will continue through October:
· Friday, May 6: Asian Pacific American Culinary Heritage, with a Wegmans guest chef
· Friday, June 17: Political Barbecues, with a Restaurant Associates guest chef
· Friday, July 8: Basque Food in America
· Friday, Aug. 12: Julia Child, with a Sur La Table guest chef
· Saturday, Sept. 17: Hispanic American Culinary Heritage, with a Wegmans guest chef
· Saturday, Oct. 15: Harvest Season, with a L’Academie de Cuisine guest chef
The program first began under the name “Food Fridays” during its pilot period in 2015, and explored 23 unique subjects during that time, including Woodstock and foods of the counterculture, the story of corn’s impact on American agriculture, America’s love affair with oysters and retelling the Thanksgiving story from the Wampanoag Indian perspective.
All ingredients used in the kitchen are courtesy of Wegmans Food Markets. The demonstration kitchen is outfitted with equipment and tools courtesy of Le Creuset, Kitchen Aid, Kitchen IQ, Silpat, and Sur La Table and its vendors. Guest chefs for “Cooking Up History” demonstrations will be coordinated through a partnership with chefs and food professionals courtesy of Wegmans Food Markets, Sur La Table, L’Academie de Cuisine and Restaurant Associates, as well as independent chefs, to present a rotating roster and different recipes based on themes developed by the museum. More information is available at http://s.si.edu/CookHistory.
The National Museum of American History is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). To learn more about the museum, check http://americanhistory.si.edu . Admission is free. For Smithsonian information, the public may call (202) 633-1000.
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