The Museum of Food and Drink is the brainchild of Dave Arnold, who asked himself why there wasn’t a museum like the Smithsonian devoted to food. Arnold found some other people crazy enough to want to start a full blown museum about food and they started a Kickstarter campaign. Their first exhibit was a traveling puffing gun used to make cereal.
After the success of the puffing gun, the MOFAD team leased an old garage in Brooklyn to become the MOFAD Lab, a space for special exhibits until they can expand. Although they can only put up one exhibit at a time right now, the goal is to soon move to a space that can hold two or three exhibits and eventually expand to a museum on the scale of the Met or the Museum of Natural History.
So it’s not a full museum yet, but the Museum of Food and Drink has an awesome exhibit called Flavor: Making It and Faking It at the MOFAD Lab in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The exhibit discusses the flavor industry, focusing on vanilla and umami, and the interactive fun runs through February 28, 2016. They also have some cool events and lectures that are worth checking out if you’re in town.
So why should you go now instead of waiting until they have a full museum? Well, first off, it might take 40 or so years for that to happen. But for more reasons:
The Smell Synth
Do you know what a flavorist is? It’s a super cool person who uses chemicals to engineer flavors. The Smell Synth lets you sniff individual flavor compounds and combine them in alluring ways, just like flavorists do when they engineer your favorite snacks.
Bet you never thought green bananas smelled like a mix of grass, bananas, booze and nail polish remover. Or that concord grapes, besides smelling like grapes, have traces of nail polish remover and vinegar odors. You can even make your own combinations and start your career as a flavorist right there.
There are also some individual smell stations that test your ability to distinguish natural and synthetic aromas of things like strawberries, lemon and vanilla.
The Flavor Station
You know those things that dispense animal feed at zoos? Well you can finally eat out of them. MOFAD has an array of tasting tablets, made with a base of potato starch, that let you experience pure flavors of things like vanilla, mushrooms, tomatoes, MSG, citric acid and even pumpkin spice.
But be warned, these tablets are not as tasty as their whole food counterparts. Be sure to end with something like sugar or apple (and not seaweed) so that you walk out with a pleasant taste in your mouth.
The Car Experience
The exhibit is sponsored by Infiniti, so obviously there’s just a car sitting there, but you can hop in this car and be taken on a virtual journey to one of the country’s best restaurants. Choose your destination, sit back and enjoy the trip.
For example, if you pick Charleston, you’ll be whisked away to Husk and see their famous shrimp and grits prepared, all projected onto the windshield of a car in a warehouse in Brooklyn. Pretty neat, right?
The Gift Shop
Gift shops are always the best way to end any museum visit, and this one is no exception. MOFAD offers a range of cookbooks, flavor extracts and even a kitchen chemistry kit. Or, you can get a t-shirt or apron with their fabulous logo on it so that everyone can be jealous of your super cool threads.