A lot of stuff is about to close down come 2012 — here in DC. There are a few things I’d like to see; one, I’ve already been there and done.
National Gallery of Art – until January 2, 2012
This one’s a maybe. It got a lot of good local press and buzz in anticipation of the exhibit’s opening in late September. The Newseum is across from the National Gallery; but it has a $21.95 admission fee. The National Gallery of Art is free. Perhaps my interest is seeing how Warhol plays in the west wing of the gallery which is nearly always reserved for works pre-20th century. The exhibit is a first all around in terms of Warhol’s work with a newspaper front-page format. Perhaps a visit is a matter of seeing what the fuss is all about.
Corcoran Gallery – until February 12, 2012
I’ve got a little time on this one, but I may see it earlier than later because word on the street is that the fuss is legit. This exhibit takes a bold step in framing the exhibit in what the curator and the collectors (who have loaned the art for this exhibit) deem as important contemporary African American artists of the last 3 decades. The art is part of the private collection of Don and Mera Rubell who live in Miami, FL who have plans for DC‘s art scene. DC has always been a city that appreciated the greener grass from another yard.
405 8th St NW Washington DC 20004 – until July 4th 2012
You can say Jose Andres ThinkFoodGroup has done it again, or done something else. (photo right: America Eats version of Key Lime Pie – deconstructed) When the National Archives opened its exhibit “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam,” an exploration of the government’s historic role in the production, regulation, research, innovation, and economics of our food supply, Jose Andres was front and center to pair the NARA exhibit with an experiential dining exhibit in the old Cafe Atlantico restaurant. This is not only an experiment in museum exhibition but also restaurant exhibitionism. America Eats Tavern is a sponsored restaurant (Dole Pineapple, America Express). It’s essentially in a pop-out space (temporary) owned by ThinkFoodGroup. According to our server, the America Eats restaurant will move to a new location in 2012, Cafe Atlantico will re-open in a new location, and the 8th Street location will be a test kitchen for the ThinkFoodGroup. [All servers are well schooled in the menu and the restaurant. This is not the gig until a part in the movie comes up.] Food is now big business for Jose and yet it looks like he’s still having fun. The America Eats Tavern is definitely a foodie experience with its contextualized menu describing the historical origins of every dish and drink based on Jose’s extensive collection of American cookbooks.
KEY LIME PIE
Limes arrived in the Florida Keys in the 1830s, thanks to a US Consul from Yucatan, Mexico. Two decades later, sweetened condensed milk was invented and the new invention rapidly took hold in the South, where fresh milk spoiled quickly. By the end of the century, the two ingredients were combined to create the famous unbaked pie, not long before a hurricane wiped out the original key limes in the 1920s.
Let’s also remember that American food and flavor has evolved over the years with each encounter. I would say for the better. BTW, Jose’s from Spain. I suppose he’s become our new Tio of what America eats.
As for “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam,” the book is more interesting for me than the exhibit. It’s a start in using original documents from the archives file to appeal to audiences that have fully embraced the foodie craze. But for me the exhibit has lots gaps including stories of the beginnings of the school lunch program. This could’ve been enhanced with testimonials from persons who ate the wheat bread with apple butter (this wasn’t mentioned in the exhibit, but it was served in schools in DC). The Olio Margarine busts are interesting (yes, margarine was treated like “crack cocaine” thanks to the Margarine Laws demanded by dairy farmers); and the testimonials that gave rise to food regulation that saved lives might make a Tea Partier think twice shutting down the government. But how has the government effected our eating habits? This is the question “What’s Cooking Uncle Sam” is exploring. However, overall the exhibit is uneven and really goes off topic ending with recipes from the White House. Many of us never knew what U.S. presidents ate. Was it determined by the USDA? BTW “What Cooking…” is free; America Eats Tavern can cost up to $60 for a 3 course experience with drink — and until July, a portion of the sales will benefit the National Archives — but the experience was worth it.
Gemal Woods at Park Triangle is turning out a new on-line series that looks fresh. It’s called “The Angle,” an “Eclectic Docuseries.” Hmmm I like his style. I’m impressed by the talent Gemal’s brought into the studio or found round about us. Gemal is making me forget that DC is a “government town.” Check it out!
If I was making a romantic comedy film set in DC, this would be one of the first locations I’d scout out (until January 2)
Zoo Lights at the National Zoo. It’s Free. It’s beautiful. It’s magical. And yes, people made “Tron 2” jokes about it, but who cares. Zoo Lights juice provided by Pepco.
And of course, I’m still just scratching the surface.