It’s easy to work up an appetite as you meander your way through the Museum of Food and Drink in Williamsburg. Its long-standing exhibit, “Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant,” for instance, weaves together stories of immigration, culture, and perseverance through photos, historical menus, artifacts, and vintage signs. And if you find your stomach rumbling as you learn about the origins of chop suey or Peking ravioli, you’re in luck: The museum also features a kitchen that serves up dishes associated with its exhibits.
Depending on the day, the museum’s menu for “Chow” has featured the likes of wonton soup, fried rice, and dumplings. (When the exhibit changes, however, so will the kitchen’s offerings.) As the chef cooks, he or she will explain the history and significance of the recipe, making for a multi-sensory learning experience.
After walking through the museum, be sure to look out for the puffing gun stationed in the lobby. Large devices such as this one were once used to turn oats, corn starch, and rice into puffed cereal. After debuting at the 1904 World’s Fair, puffing guns were responsible for creating breakfast classics such as Cheerios, Kix, and Corn Pops. Although the cannon-like devices made for spectacular cereal explosions, they were replaced by more efficient technology after World War II.
Update: MOFAD is currently in search of a new permanent home.
Know Before You Go
MOFAD is open Friday through Sunday. As of October 2019, curators were raising funds to develop the next exhibit, which will celebrate African-Americans' contributions to the culinary landscape of the United States throughout history.