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Tasting MOHAI's 'Edible City' With Kids in Tow

A restaurateur's review of the MOHAI exhibit

Angela Stowell

Published on: April 21, 2017

Beeechers' Cheese
Making cheese at Beecher's. Photo credit: Pike Place Market PDA, photo by Charlie Schuck

As a parent of two young children who is also a restaurateur, I was excited when MOHAI announced the Edible City exhibit. This wasn’t too surprising because — full disclosure — my husband and business partner Ethan Stowell is featured in the exhibit. I am exceptionally proud that his mark on the Seattle restaurant scene is on display.  

What I didn’t expect was the depth to which the exhibit explored the food system throughout our entire state in a way that's engaging to kids. It makes it possible for families to discover the foods and restaurants synonymous with Seattle and the Northwest. 

When you enter the exhibit space at MOHAI, Edible City immediately pulls you in with the rich sounds of the Seattle food scene. The sound of milk frothing, shots of espresso being pulled and ambient coffee-shop noise pull you into the corner of the exhibit celebrating Starbucks and Seattle’s coffee culture. 

One room away, you’ll hear the sounds of Pike Place Market — street performers, fishmongers and shopkeepers offering wares. Celebrated local food writer Rebecca Denn curated the exhibit and succeeded in making each installation feel authentically Seattle, with the right amount of history, interaction and a few recipes to try at home - such as Beecher’s famous Mac & Cheese.

Pike Place Market activists
Campaigning against the demolition of Pike Place Market. Photo credit: MOHAI, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection

For me, the best part of Edible City is how easily you can incorporate the interactive nature of the exhibit into everyday life in Seattle. Taste the exhibit, and then try some of the foods it spotlights. If you have a sweet tooth, for example, sit down with your kids for a game of Sweets of Seattle, a Candyland-like board game located in the main hall of the exhibit. Then explore Seattle sweets shops like High 5 Pie, Hot Cakes or Theo’s Chocolates. 

In another room, families can sit down at a table where you can create a meal, using interactive flash cards, featuring local seasonal ingredients. Then go home and make that actual meal for your family dinner. Similarly, you can find a list of local farmers markets next to the Seasonal Meal Table, along with a calendar of seasonal veggies. Follow with a shopping trip to the market to source your ingredients. 

The exhibit explores serious topics as well. Another board game offers an opportunity to talk to kids about food insecurity and hunger — a topic that is on the minds of many parents and kids as the crisis of homelessness has spread throughout our region.

MOHAI, King County News Photo Collection
MOHAI, King County News Photo Collection

Many of the installations provide the opportunity to teach kids about the importance of our food system and the history of the Seattle food scene. From a history lesson in Native American food sovereignty to a fun reminder about which Seattle chef beat Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, Edible Seattle introduces kids to the Northwest food scene, both past and present.

And for my kids, it also meant a Dutch Baby breakfast, courtesy of the Manca Café’s Dutch Baby recipe posted on the wall near the exit. 

Know before you go: Edible City Science Fair and more bite-size fun

Edible City Science Fair. This weekend is an especially good time to check out the Edible City exhibit, as MOHAI is hosting an Edible City Science Fair in honor of Earth Day this Saturday. The fair will include hands-on displays, demonstrations and activities related to innovations in food science as well as food, farming and sustainability. Saturday, April 22, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Visiting MOHAI. MOHAI is located at 860 Terry Ave N, Seattle. Admission is $13.95-$19.95 and free for kids 14 and under. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is free on first Thursdays to MOHAI’s regular galleries (extra cost for Edible City) and open until 8 p.m.

Recipes: Find fun Seattle recipes to try at home on MOHAI's Edible City web page (scroll down). 

More to do at Lake Union Park. Play in the fountains at Lake Union Park (when open); explore boat-building at Center for Wooden Boats (or rent a boat, free rides on Sunday); sail a pond boat (Saturdays and Sundays); or hop on the Seattle Streetcar for downtown destinations. 

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