The Rain Room

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This weekend, my friends and I woke up at 5:45am and stood in line until 11am to see the Rain Room, a room full of rain. Was it worth it?

Well, it’s complicated.

My immediate reaction is skepticism. We stood in the blistering heat, I ended up with blisters on my feet, and for the last twenty minutes of our wait (which, while blissfully air conditioned, were also the most painful minutes), we watched small children running through the exhibit as if it was a sprinkler at Central Park. As someone behind us said, “if they can bring their kids, I should be able to bring my dog.” The line moved agonizingly slow, as only ten people are allowed in the exhibit at one time. We spent less than twenty minutes in the exhibit itself.

Apollo, as represented by one real ballerina and three amateurs

That being said, the Rain Room really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We experienced being in a rain shower, yet not getting rained on. It allowed us to appreciate the serene beauty of rain without the annoyances of muddy puddles and soaked clothes. We also got some awesome silhouette pictures, courtesy of a bright white floodlight, the only source of light in the otherwise black room. (Though we were so busy posing that we only really enjoyed the quietude in the last few minutes.)

To see the Rain Room, you basically have to have a membership, since the museum lets members into line first. I happen to have a membership, but I felt a pang of pity walking past all those tourists who’d come from other states and countries to see the Rain Room, only to be stuck waiting for five hours or more. Nothing is worth standing in line for that long, and definitely not a 10ft by 10ft square of artificial rain.

It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience, in that I will never do it again. But it was pretty cool to experience it once, and as my friend said, somewhat dubiously, “well, only 200 people get to see it per day.”

P.S. If you want to wait for a reasonable amount of time for something that is, in my opinion, more worth the wait, do try out this tomato sauce recipe. It elevates the pedestrian marinara to never-before-attained gourmet heights; it’s rich and delicious, the perfect way to use up all those cherry tomatoes.

Olive Oil-Poached Cherry Tomato Sauce (adapted from Graffiato) – serves 8-10

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup shallots, cut into very thin slices

1/2 cup garlic, cut very thin

4 cups whole stemmed cherry tomatoes

2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed

8 stems basil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes

Combine the oil and shallots in a large saute pan over low heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until shallots are translucent and soft, then stir in garlic until evenly coated. Cook for about 15 minutes or until garlic has softened, then stir in cherry tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add basil.

Partially cover and cook for an hour, or until basically all cherry tomatoes are deflated and the mixture is blended into a rich sauce. Discard the basil (leaving some of the leaves if you like).

Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.

Serve right away; or cool, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

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