1.27.2014

FEAST and a Grown-Up Playdate at The New Children's Museum


In college, I studied abroad in Italy.

For four months, my best friend and I lived with an Italian family with two small children. Franchi was two and Feli was four. Every weeknight we had dinner together. Cooking dinner for the six of us was no small feat for this family because my friend and I were/are vegetarians. And in Italy, vegetarian is (practically) a dirty word. But I have to say that the family was lovely about our little dietary restriction. As I remember, we ate lots of salty fried potatoes. And even though we went to the gym every day, my friend and I both came back home ever so slightly rounder than when we had left.

Anyway, one night Franchi decided to play with her dinner the way your average American toddler would play with Cheerios. She through it up in the air. She smushed it on her tray. She rubbed it into her hair.

Which is completely normal except it, my friends, was meat.

I wanted to throw up.

However, I imagine that The New Children's Museum would have a different take on this situation. The Museum would probably see it as an important opportunity to talk about food and culture. In fact, this kind of conservation is exactly what the Museum is hoping to inspire with its latest exhibit, FEAST. FEAST: The Art of Playing with Your Food encourages folks to think about, talk about, and maybe even learn about food. But this platform is presented in the most fun way possible -- by combining art with play.

Back in December I was invited to take a tour of FEAST. It was hands-on and kid-friendly, cheerful and creative. All of the installations were designed by contemporary artists, which was just so very cool.

It was right up my alley. And I loved what I saw.

There was bridge with scratch & sniff walls.



And a tractor which was just asking to be painted. (Again.)

There was a bouncy house, a chicken coop, and a space for families to sit and read together.

There was something for everyone.

The Museum had this wonderful energy. It was buzzing. But I loved how the Museum balanced this energy by offering opportunities for Zen. So when the color and energy and excitement got to be too much, I retreated inside The Rain House by Ernest Silva. And once inside the house, all I could hear was the sound of rain falling softly on a tin roof. It was so very peaceful. It was my favorite part of my visit.

So even though the Museum was (technically) designed for kids, I think that it just might be the perfect spot for a grown-up playdate for two. And I can't wait to plan my next visit.

So I'm curious, what is your favorite food-related book? I love Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candice Fleming for kids and Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir Blood, Bones & Butter.