Life & Style: Thought for Food

MOHAIs six-course 'Edible City' will examine how, what and why Seattle eats.

By John Levesque October 27, 2016


This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

SHOW OF HANDS. Who remembers Yeslers Cookhouse?
Long before Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell and Josh Henderson made the chefs 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 cliche, Yeslers 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, Yeslers Cookhouse was most likely Seattles 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 thats OK, because a new exhibit at Seattles 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 Yeslers 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 Northwests distinctive setting begat a food culture that makes for destination dining and incomparable innovation.
Our citys foods are both local and global, says Denn, as exuberant as a public market and as intimate as a garden patch. Were 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 Seattles 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;

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