It’s Greek to Me (In a Good Way): A Taste of Greece and The Greeks Exhibit at the National Geographic Museum

The National Geographic Society is eclectic in its areas of expertise: photography, geography, exploration, science…they demonstrated their mastery of meteorology by having an outdoor event showcasing the Greek food of the Washington area on the least humid and most zephyric evening of July.  It was one of many events around the Nat Geo’s major attraction of the summer, the Greeks Exhibit.

A Line of Food Booths

A Line of Food Booths

View from the Stairs

View from the Stairs

Reflecting Rocks

Reflecting Rocks

More Reflecting

More Reflecting

The courtyard of the Museum was filled with booths dispensing food and drink, and people consuming same.  The street entrance was guarded by a huge wooden structure with a horse’s head and tail attached – just in case you had any question about what might be found inside!  The horse was unimaginatively named Troy, but this was not the fault of Nat Geo.  The structure was built to frame the subway stop exit near the Field Museum in Chicago.  It was shipped here along with the exhibit.

Troy, The 19-Foot Horse

Troy, the 19-Foot Horse

View Through the Other End

View Through the Other End

About two dozen booths were offering little bites of one or two courses.  As mezze is a big section of most Greek restaurant’s menus, this was right up in their wheelhouse.  I managed to taste the offerings of each booth, and then waddled into the museum to marvel at the exhibit.

And since any event these days is tragically unhip without a signature cocktail, Radiator was mixing up a libation called Persephone’s Return, which of course included pomegranate juice.

Mixing Drinks

Mixing Drinks

The Drinks Were Pretty, Too

The Drinks Were Pretty, Too

And there were two nymphs in service to Bacchus dispensing Blue Valley Vineyard wine.  They had matching circlets, very fetching.

Theresa and Shannon, the Nymphs

Theresa and Shannon, the Nymphs

Zaytinya, one of Jose Andres’ restaurants, offered dolmades and apricots with Greek yogurt.

Zaytinya Booth

Zaytinya Booth

At Mykonos, it was a family affair.

Mykonos Mom

Mykonos Mom

But the best dish, in my totally subjective opinion, was the octopus at Kellari Taverna.

Kellari's Octopus

Kellari’s Octopus

Octopus and Cookies at Kellari

Octopus, Cheese and Cookies at Kellari

The exhibit covers artifacts from the Neolithic to Alexander the Great – 5,000 years of history.  There were many food-related artifacts, both ceremonial and functional.  An amphora of the type that would be filled with olive oil and awarded to winners in the Panathenaic Games in Athens was placed next to an interactive part of the exhibit – one could practice scraping oneself with a replica strigil, as athletes did.

The Amphora is on the Left

The Amphora is on the Left

There was a wonderful silver drinking cup with the head of Silenus, foster father of Bacchus, inside.  Maybe related to those nymphs in the courtyard?

Surprise!

Surprise!

Exiting through the gift shop, I noticed a whole fixture full of food and cookbooks for sale.

Maybe Some Honey, or Olive Oil?

Maybe Some Honey, or Olive Oil?

The exhibit closes October 10.  Go see it!  Even without an appropriate feast beforehand, it is totally worth it.

About Judy

I have been cooking and eating all my life. I help run the Olney Farmers and Artists Market in Olney, Maryland, arrange their weekly chef demos and blog from that website (olneyfarmersmarket.org) on Market matters. This personal blog is for all things foodie: cookbooks, products, restaurants, eating.
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