The Cleveland Museum of Natural History (CMNH
) may be most popular among families and field-trippers, but foodies take note: You won’t want to miss Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture
, a traveling presentation of the American Museum of Natural History, New York, on display in the venerable University Circle institution through January 8, 2017.
Dr. Nikki Burt, curator of human health and evolutionary medicine at CMNH promises the exhibit will change the way you relate to food – a tall order, but one visitors will eagerly affirm.
Tracing back the history of food to the beginning of civilization, the presentation reveals how human habits and technology have influenced the yield, shape, size, and taste of everything we eat, along with the inevitable “trade offs” that create negative impacts on crops, farm animals and fish.
Through interactive displays that follow the roots of cultivation, culture, science and trade, it’s apparent that our everyday culinary choices are more complex and meaningful than mere cravings. Rather, opportunities often afforded by those less fortunate and actions with far-reaching consequences, impact people continents away and for generations to come.
As a former expat and lightweight locavore who frequents farmer’s markets, I considered myself fairly worldly and connected to my food sources before embarking on the tour. Nearing the end, while sandwiched between two towering walls - one displaying a collection of the world’s most influential cookbooks and the other festooned with utensils used around the globe - I felt both puny and powerful, humbly educated and hungry to learn even more.
The grand finale of the exhibit can be found as you round the final corridor and step inside a life-like gallery of famous people’s food. The simple concept proved fascinating, allowing visitors to imagine bellying up to Michael Phelp’s breakfast table and see how Jane Austen ate on her estate while penning her bestselling books.
Although there’s a tiny area for toddlers at the end of the line, older kids and adults will get the most enjoyment from this exhibit, which is best savored as you would a smorgasbord – slowly and with gusto. Be prepared to be grabbed by all of your senses at every turn.
Speaking of eating…Our Global Kitchen
will undoubtedly kindle cravings and conversation, so come prepared with a plan for your post-museum meal. Zack Bruell’s cafeteria-style eatery Exploration
is located onsite but closes before 4 p.m. If that's too early, other opportunities to enjoy international fare at independent restaurants abound. France is as far-flung as EDWINS
on Shaker Square, Brazil is as close as Batuqui
in Larchmere, and a little taste of Italy
is literally around the corner.
Want to extend the day or make a date of it? Download the Cleveland Historical
and Circle Walk
apps to guide you on an afternoon stroll through University Circle and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens in Rockefeller Park.
No matter how you chose to sup before your visit, Our Global Kitchen
may not change the way you twirl your pasta or dress a salad, but you’ll never look at food the same way again.