By Karl Terry: Freedom New Mexico
Chocolate grenades and aprons from various decades dating back to the 1940s were just a few of the things visitors experienced at the opening ceremonies of “Key Ingredients, America By Food,” Saturday.
The traveling Smithsonian Institute exhibit, currently calling Eastern New Mexico University’s Golden Library home, celebrates food and how it has shaped American culture. It also deals with how the food we eat and the way it is prepared and processed has changed over the years.
The exhibit and the events surrounding it are co-sponsored by ENMU, Roosevelt County Extension and the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce.
Poppy Renvall-Johnson, who started out as one of the organizers of the events surrounding the exhibit’s visit, was called back to her native British Columbia before the plans were complete, but she was in town for the opening and said the events on slate surpass her hopes.
“I would say that is a result of the amount of hard work on everyone’s part,” Renvall-Johnson said. “Everybody was so receptive and easy to get to volunteer. I really felt like I needed to come back and be with all the people I love.”
People began browsing the panels of the exhibit even before even co-chair Connie Moyers, ENMU President Steven Gamble and Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. cut the ribbon.
“Anytime we can partner with the Smithsonian is a good day, in fact, it’s a great day,” Gamble said as the exhibit opened. “We think ‘Key Ingredients’ will be a wonderful six weeks for us.”
Coinciding with the opening of the exhibit was the opening of an ENMU student art show titled “Food Poisoning.” To be included, student’s pieces had to have some connection to food. Art student Wesley Canada had to massage that limitation a bit to get her piece, titled “Cheeto,” which won second into the juried show.
The interesting, smooth wood sculpture resembled a Cheetos cheese snack but Canada admits she didn’t start out to create a Cheeto, instead she gave it that name to get it into the show.
“It was just a design with spirals and upward motion,” Canada said. “I really liked the piece and wanted to get it in the show so I named it Cheeto.”
Another show-stopping creation, meant to be consumed was a large bowl full of realistic looking hollow chocolate grenades made by Greg Senn. The grenades were passed out to patrons as indulged in a variety of appetizers provided by members of the Family and Consumer Science Department at Eastern. Decorated cake, created by Marge Blatnik was also served.
“I love it because it’s very beneficial to our department,” said FCS student Andrea Neufeld as she went through the appetizer line. “Through it (Key Ingredients) we hope to get our name out there and let people know what we’re all about. We’re excited to share this with the community.”
Upstairs was an exhibit of aprons and bonnets from local homes, showing the styles through the decades.
Rebecca Gossett, a student in ENMU’s FCS Department gave a demonstration of recipes using sweet potatoes.
“The programs are what is going to bring everybody together,” Renvall-Johnson said. “It’s like food — it brings us all together.”
The exhibit continues through April 4 with events planned each week.