Ottawa — This is one exhibit everyone can sink their teeth into.
A traveling display from the Smithsonian Institution, currently at the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa, highlights American food - from the farmers and ranchers who grow it to the tables it's served on, and everything in between.
"All of us eat, but we don't really think about what we eat - we just do it," said Jason Camis, director of the Franklin County Convention & Visitors Bureau. "This looks at various aspects of food, like how it gets to us, and brings awareness in a lot of senses."
The exhibit, "Key Ingredients: America by Food," opened last week at the museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St., and will remain on view until Oct. 14.
The museum and Convention & Visitors Bureau joined in a competitive process through the Kansas Humanities Council to bring the display to town. It also is making stops in Garden City, Arkansas City, Hays, Johnson City and Council Grove.
In addition to the exhibit, the museum is coordinating a series of book discussions, community meals and public presentations - including a visit Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 by Marian Getz, an Ottawa University graduate who now is a chef for Wolfgang Puck's show on the Home Shopping Network.
The Smithsonian Institution food exhibit on display in Ottawa is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council. The sponsoring agency was incorrect in a story in Wednesday's Journal-World.
Camis said the exhibit was generating a buzz around town.
"Over the last five to seven years, there's been a change to everybody watching the Food Network and chefs like Emeril (Lagasse)," Camis said. "There's a new awareness and level of excitement about food. Food was just about convenience in the '80s, and value. Now, I think we're going back to appreciating food, where food comes from, and why you eat what you eat."
The exhibition has five main themes, presented through photographs, interactive exhibits, artifacts and words:
* "Land of Plenty," looking at America's food production.
* "Local Flavors," which, according to Smithsonian materials, "explores the relationship between food, geography and identity."
* "Dynamic Delivery," which examines the impact of the Industrial Revolution on Americans' diets.
* "Festival of Feasts," which looks at food-based celebrations.
* "Home Cooking," which explores how table manners, menus and traditions begin at home.
"It's everything from farmers to table manners to kitchen gadgets," said Deb Barker, director of the Franklin County Historical Society. "They have it all."
Barker recently completed a book, "Feast of Franklin County," and will have a book-release party Oct. 2. It tells the story of food in the county, including what early-day residents ate and the role dairies played in the county's development.
It also talks about the Esoteric and Terrible Society of Pie-Eaters, a group of jovial men who gathered starting in the late 1860s to eat pie.
Barker wouldn't be surprised if Ottawans' discussions about food, spurred by the Smithsonian exhibit, led residents to loosen their belts a notch by the time the display leaves.
"There have been Smithsonian exhibits that have come through here before," she said. "But none of them have really had a universal appeal like this one does."
Join the fun
"Key Ingredients: America by Food," a traveling exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution, will be at the Old Depot Museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St. in Ottawa, until Oct. 14.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The museum also is organizing a series of events and dinners in conjunction with the exhibit:
â Food Quilt Show, through Oct. 14, at the Franklin County Visitor Information Center, 2011 East Logan St. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
â Vintage Recipe Scrapbooking workshop, 10 a.m. Saturday, The Paper Haven, 119 S. Main St. Cost is $15, and preregistration is required by calling 785-242-8099.
â Recipe Cards and Folder workshop, 2 p.m. Saturday at The Paper Haven, 119 S. Main St. Cost is $10, and registration is required by calling 785-242-8099.
â Discussion on "Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm" by David Masumoto, book discussion led by Tom Prasch, 2 p.m. Tuesday, City Hall/Library conference room, 101 S. Hickory St.
â "Screen Cuisine: Hollywood Table Talk," discussion on food in movies by John Tibbetts, associate professor of film at Kansas University, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15, City Hall/Library commission room, 101 S. Hickory St.
â Community dinner, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sept. 18, St. Therese Catholic Church, Highway 59 and Central Ave. in Richmond.
â "Every Apron has a Story," discussion on aprons led by Pat Vining, 2 p.m. Sept. 20, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 401 W. 13th St.
â "Cookin' at the Library," workshop led by Julie McAdoo, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 22, City Hall/Library commission room, 101 S. Hickory St.
â Community dinner, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 23, First United Methodist Church, 4th and Hickory Streets.
â "Altered Clipboard and Grocery List," workshop on turning a clipboard and pen into a matched grocery list set, 10 a.m. Sept. 24, The Paper Haven, 119 S. Main St. Cost is $10.
â "Bread in a Bad" workshop for children, teaching them how to make a loaf a bread in a freezer bag, 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 24, K-State Research and Extension of Franklin County, 1418 S. Main St.
â "Symbolic Foods of the Great Plains," presentation by Barbara Shortridge, assistant professor of geography at KU, 3 p.m. Sept. 25, Potter's Wheel Coffeehouse, 101 S. Main St.
â "Family Day: A Day to Eat Dinner with your Children," dinner event at the Vassar Playhouse on West Highway 68, Sept. 26.
â "The Secrets of the Tsil Cafe: A Novel with Recipes" by Tom Averill, book discussion led by Trish Reeves, 2 p.m. Sept. 27, City Hall/Library conference room, 101 S. Hickory St.
â Hunger Banquet, dinner with rice and beans and presentation on world hunger, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Sept. 29, Ottawa University, 10 and Cedar. Cost is $5 and preregistration is requested by calling 785-242-1411.
â "Wolf's Favorite Finger Foods," with Marion Getz, chef on Wolfgang Puck's Home Shopping Network show, 6 p.m. Sept. 30, Ottawa Middle School, 1230 Ash St. Cost is $30 and preregistration is required by calling 785-242-1411.
â "Shop with the Chef," with Marion Getz, 8 a.m. Oct. 1, Ottawa Farmers Market, 2008 S. Princeton St. and Country Mart, 2138 S. Princeton Circle.
â "Harvest Lunch" workshop for cooking with fresh produce, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 1, Ottawa Middle School, 1230 Ash St. Cost is $30 and registration is required by calling 785-242-1411.
â "Feast of Franklin County" book release party, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2, Franklin County Annex, 1418 S. Main.
â "Growing Corn, Preserving Beans and Fighting Peanuts," annual Pie Eaters Conclave meeting, 7 p.m. Oct. 2, Franklin County Annex, 148 S. Main . Cost is $5.
â "Miriam's Kitchen: A Memoir" by Elizabeth Ehrlich, book discussion led by Steve Foulke, noon Oct. 4, City Hall/Library commission room, 101 S. Hickory St.
â Community dinner, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Oct. 7, First Christian Church, 1045 S. Hickory St.
â Franklin County Farm Tour, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Oct. 8, leaves from Franklin County Visitor Center, 2011 E. Logan St.
â Vintage Recipe Scrapbooking workshop, 10 a.m. Oct. 8, The Paper Haven, 119 S. Main St. Cost is $15 and registration is required by calling 785-242-8099.
â Recipe Cards and Folder workshop, 2 p.m. Oct. 8, The Paper Haven, 119 S. Main St. Cost is $10 and registration is required by calling 785-242-8099.
â Harvest Fest, featuring apple and pumpkin picking, kids' activities, an antique cider press and more, all day Oct. 8 and 9, Pome on the Range Orchards and Winery, 2050 Idaho Road in Williamsburg.
â Community dinner, 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 13, Trinity United Methodist Church, 630 N. Cedar St.
â Community dinner, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 17, First Baptist Church, 4th and Hickory Streets.