Did I mention I found a new dream job?
Because I did. In June my former  roommate told me about this exhibit that was on at the National Archives in our lovely capital city called What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?: The Government’s Effect on the American Diet. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but it basically shows (with pretty solid detail) how our food industry and policies have progressed since the early 19th century. For all my fellow foodies out there, Jose Andres (Spanish chef, James Beard award-winner, basically a big effin deal in the food world) was the Chief Culinary Advisor on the exhibit.
I wrote my senior English thesis on cookbooks of the WWII era and learned a TON about how American cuisine has become what it is today. If I ever get the chance to write a big fat thesis/book, I’d like to go back to the beginning and trace American food from the beginning, just because I think it’s so interesting to see what has (and hasn’t) affected how & what we as a country eat. See the exhibit? I wanted to work at this exhibit!
Naturally, after bouncing up and down in my chair, I began to plot. Never mind the fact that I hate driving, have no income and no one to go with – I would get to D.C. It was that important.
Lo and behold, I quit my job (for very specific reasons) and would drive home to Boston from Atlanta with my mom in early July. And whaddayaknow, but it looks as if a certain city is right smack in the middle of the route from Georgia to Mass!
So off we went, in good ole Daphne (yes, my car has a name. Yours doesn’t?) with most of my life packed in boxes in the backseat. This is has been pretty common practice for the past 4 years.
We got to D.C. on a sunny [and sweaty] Thursday afternoon and after a relatively short wait in line, entered the fabulously air-conditioned National Archives. (The Declaration of Independence is housed there as well, so you can make a quick stop by that on your way out!) I thought the exhibit was very well done and was much more honest than I expected about the, um, interesting history of food in America. They really did some fantastic research. I saw newspapers from the 19th century with farmers discussing their opinions of the latest laws passed on agriculture, old commercials touting the benefits of enriched white flour, a letter written by Upton Sinclair about the effect of his book The Jungle. I saw propaganda posters encouraging the consumption of “vitamin doughnuts,” the coming about of stricter sanitation laws, and how the concept of nutrition was advertised and changed over a century. I saw Lady Bird Johnson’s chili recipe, the Kennedy family’s White House menus, and Queen Elizabeth’s scone recipe.
Yeah, I had a pretty good time. And I was pleasantly surprised by how much I knew because of my thesis research!
I really am a huge nerd. I should probably seek help. Or just go to grad school. I vote for the latter.
They didn’t allow pictures inside the building (that above is outside), so I don’t have much to show you, but the exhibit was really fun and worth a visit if it’s in your way (or you’re just a geek like me)!
Yep, working at this exhibit is definitely a dream job. And I mean that literally – the exhibit ends January 3rd, 2012, so all I can do is dream about it.
Oh well. I guess I’ll have to be content with a royal scone as consolation.