Venture into the depths of Williamsburg and find yourself at Brooklyn’s own Museum of Food and Drink Lab. The different boards of MOFAD boast some mega-famous faces, including but not limited to: Mario Batali (Iron Chef America and The Chew), Questlove (Jimmy Fallon’s DJ), Dominique Ansel (of the cronut fame), Christina Tosi (chef/founder/owner of Momofuku Milk Bar), and more. At this special museum dedicated to the things that make you happiest in life, from now through May 31st, you can see the exhibit, Flavor: Making it and Faking It. This exhibit solely dedicated to flavor and let me tell you, it’s nothing short of fascinating.
The exhibit really seeks to demonstrate the difference between natural and artificial flavors with super awesome interactive pieces. For example, in the back of the exhibit, there’s this really cool control panel that allows you to press different “flavor” buttons to create a succinct taste. You can smell these through tubes set up around the board. Above the board are “recipes.” The coolest one in my opinion was the ripe vs. unripe banana. A ripe banana combined the smells/flavors: “nail polish remover,” “boozy,” and “banana.” To create the smell of a “green banana,” you simply add: “green leaf.” And lo and behold, the difference is astonishing. The components really do smell as you assume they would, yet together, they smell exactly as their recipe describes.
There are also parts of the exhibit that test your ability to distinguish “natural” from “artificial” flavors. Not only can you try it out with smell, but you can also try it out with taste. Set up around the exhibit are little gumball dispensers filled with white tablets that are essentially flavor concentrates. You can try a “tomato” tablet, a “seaweed” tablet, and more. While going around, tasting these little tablets, I learned something fascinating (which I probably should have known before, but oh well)… there is a fifth basic taste: Umami. Umami is essentially characterized as the taste of something mouth-watering and savory, and we can find it in the form of MSG. Yes, you can actually taste an MSG tablet (do it just to say you did), and this is where I stress that you should bring water.
What’s more is that MOFAD Lab offers a student discount on tickets, and affordable cooking classes if you and your friends are looking for something new to try!