Life & Style: Thought for Food

MOHAI’s six-course 'Edible City' will examine how, what and why Seattle eats.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
 
SHOW OF HANDS. Who remembers Yesler’s Cookhouse?
 
Long before Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell and Josh Henderson made the chef’s trade a cult of celebrity, long before fishmongers were tossing salmon at Pike Place Market and long before “farm to table” was a food-industry cliché, Yesler’s Cookhouse was offering sustenance to the people of Seattle. 
 
Initially situated at Commercial Street (now First Avenue South) and South Washington Street in Pioneer Square, Yesler’s Cookhouse was most likely Seattle’s first restaurant.
 
In 1853.
 
No one knows if it served hand-forged kale chips, free-range halibut cheeks and house-made truffle fries with cilantro-wasabi aioli. But that’s OK, because a new exhibit at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry called Edible City: A Delicious Journey promises to impart so much more information on the history of food in Seattle that the bill of fare at Yesler’s Cookhouse will ultimately seem like a pale puddle of peanut tamarind dipping sauce.
 
Curated by Rebekah Denn, twice the recipient of a James Beard Award for her food writing, Edible City will serve up the story of how Seattle eats, how its palate has developed over the years and how the Pacific Northwest’s distinctive setting begat a food culture that makes for destination dining and incomparable innovation.
 
“Our city’s foods are both local and global,” says Denn, “as exuberant as a public market and as intimate as a garden patch. We’re as contemporary as a vegan food truck and as timelessly elegant as a plate of vermouth-poached prawns.”
 
Edible City, which opens November 19, offers a culinary journey through six thematic sections:
 
Raw Ingredients. An exploration of what constitutes “Seattle” food — and why.
Processing/Prepping. A look at the industries that helped shape Seattle, from canneries to coffee roasters.
Market to Market. From farmers’ markets to supermarkets, a visit to the places where Seattleites buy their food.
Bringing It Home. A study of home cooking — via an actual Seattle kitchen — and the history of social inventions like P-Patches and community gardens.
Cooking Techniques. An examination of how Seattle’s tech revolution has made people look at food preparation in different ways. 
Serving It Up. A presentation of the diverse dining establishments that have created a signature Northwest cuisine.
 
MOHAI recruited 30 people from the food industry, including chefs, educational professionals and food technology experts, to collaborate and advise on program development for the exhibition. 
 
EDIBLE CITY: A DELICIOUS JOURNEY: November 19, 2016, to September 10, 2017; Museum of History & Industry; 860 Terry Ave. N, Seattle; 206.324.1126; mohai.org.
 

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