A new exhibition at Brooklyn’s Museum of Food and Drink explores a generations-long link between New York City’s Bangladeshi community and its Indian restaurants.
“This is more than just another story of how a cuisine came to this country; this is deeply personal,” artist Mohammed Ali told Metro New York. Ali, who also goes by the name Aerosol Ali, knows first hand how closely the Bangladeshi community is tied to the restaurant scene in cities like London and New York. He told Metro that his father was one of the chefs that moved to the United Kingdom in the 1950s and helped start that decade’s fascination with curry.
To tell the story of Bangladeshi-Americans, he spent months researching and talking to chefs and other restaurant workers in famed immigrant enclaves like Jackson Heights, Queens, and the Parkchester section of the Bronx.
In order to give visitors a detailed look at restuarant life, Ali worked to recreate the front room of Milon restaurant in the East Village for the museum. It is there that ticketed visitors to MOFAD will be served a three course meal that consists of traditional Bangladeshi food and the curries popularized in England.
In addition to examining the impact of Indian restaurants on urban life, MOFAD’s exhibit is unique in that it also gives museum goers a peek inside the everyday lives of the chefs and servers working in restaurants. A replica apartment filled with memorabilia showcases Bangladeshi immigrant life and the sacrifices made in order to support family members both here and in South Asia.
As part of the upcoming @knightsoftheraj arts installation, a fantastic cross-cultural cuisine exchange as @mofad chef John recreates a traditional bangladeshi Shrimp & pumpkin curry from my mother taught over live video – from Birmingham to New York. pic.twitter.com/CSlJ5cs8FF
— Mohammed Ali (@aerosolali) July 11, 2018
To ensure the accuracy of the dishes, Ali connected the head chef at the museum with his mother, who taught the group how to prepare things in a traditional fashion. “We Facetimed her in, and she spent two hours showing the MOFAD head chef how to make it,” he explained.
The “Knights of the Raj” exhibition opened to the public on Friday, July 20 and runs through August 5. For tickets, head here.
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