SEATTLE — If you love local food and enjoy history, too, you won’t want to miss Edible City: A Delicious Journey at the Museum of History and Industry.
Curated by the award-winning food journalist Rebekah Denn, the exhibit includes stories about foods eaten by Coast Salish tribes, early days of dairy farming, the massive salmon harvests, farmers markets, Seattle-area food manufacturers and important regional restaurants.
The culinary history of our area focuses on the fresh ingredients that resulted in nationally known products and beautiful plates from top chefs.
Denn makes it clear from the start that the Puget Sound region can rightly boast that it’s one of America’s best places to eat. She should know. A two-time winner of the James Beard award for food writing, Denn is a former restaurant critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She now writes for the Seattle Times and Sunset magazine.
One can tell that this journalist curated the exhibit, which is thorough and easy to grasp. Denn didn’t miss a thing, and the exhibit designers did beautiful work and incorporated a bunch of great interactive stuff.
Denn has written before about the fact that our natural resources play a huge part in the love of this place we call home. Check out the photo of a giant mushroom found out in the woods. Marvel at the bounty of the salmon harvest 100 years ago.
MOHAI executive director Leonard Garfield uses the term “confluence of cultures,” to describe a region where diversity is respected and where Native, Asian, European, Central American and African foods are enjoyed.
The exhibit is laid out more or less chronologically, starting with the traditional foods foraged and eaten by local tribes and the fruits and vegetables grown by truck farmers from the Kent valley to the Stillaguamish River and beyond.
Read about the Tilth movement (working the soil) from Mark Musick, who started the effort at Pragtree Farm in Arlington. Discover that the Rainier cherry was developed in 1950 by Washington State University.
Find out about regional fish canneries, peanut butter and jam producers, and cheese, chocolate, wine, beer and bread makers. While Starbucks and the Stewart brothers were some of the first to roast coffee, note that the first espresso cart showed up at the Edmonds Arts Festival in 1979.
Learn about local markets, including Pike Place, food cooperatives, neighborhood farmers markets, Uwajimaya and more.
Note that we have more teriyaki fast-food restaurants in the region than hamburger joints, but that loyalty to establishments such as Dick’s (deluxe burgers), Ivar’s (seafood) and Ezell’s (fried chicken) is beyond compare.
Sit at a table and pretend you are at Canlis in the 1960s and being waited on by staff in kimonos.
Finally have a look at Seattle’s current culinary superstars, including Ethan Stowell, Tom Douglas, Renee Erickson, Jerry Traunfeld, Rachel Yang, Kathy Casey and Lisa Nakamara, among many others.
While Seattle is the focus, it’s safe to say that we live in an edible state.
If you go
Through Sept. 10, see “Edible City” at the Museum of History and Industry, 860 Terry Ave., Seattle. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tickets are $19.95 general admission, $15.95 for seniors, $13.95 for students and free for age 14 and younger when accompanied by an adult. For more information, call 206-324-1126 or go to www.mohai.org.
Also, while you are there, check out Rebekah Denn’s book “Edible City,” which comes complete with recipes for about $25.