On Saturday, November 10th, Oracle sponsored Free4All, free admission to twelve museums located in what Leah Garchik of the San Francisco Chronicle calls (and the rest of us should call) Culture Gulch, the area around 3rd and Mission, more or less. Hats off to Oracle, even if they may have done this just to make up for the inconvenience of closing a block or two of Howard Street for a week for its annual (or is it semi-annual: surely they just had one) conference.
One of the musuems I visited that day was the Musuem of the African Diaspora (MoAD.) The two floors of exhibit space were devoted entirely (as far as I could tell: I am eminently able to miss small rooms off to one side) to "Hungry Planet: What the World Eats." This has little to do with the African diaspora, but is fascinating. The exhibit consists of large color photos of families from around the world, seated/standing with a full week's purchases of food, both groceries and takeout. Text tells a bit about the family, and lists everything purchased, with prices in US dollars. A small exhibit included shots of fast food places around the world -- mostly US firms, but some local ones.
The galleries were crowded, probably due to the free day (well, that's why I was there,) and there were lots of families. Some parents used different photos to point out to their child/children that not everyone has as much to eat as we do in this country. Among the adults, there was lots of conversation too. It was all fascinating, even to a non-foodie like me. I recommend this exhibit, but there's also a companion book, which won the 2006 James Beard Foundation Book Award, in case you can't get to the museum. The exhibit continues through January 20, 2008.