So, vacation time is here. What to do? Where to go? How about museums–educational, right?–of culinary phenomena?
You could start with the National Mustard Museum( formerly the Mt. Horeb Mustard Museum) in Middleton, Wisconsin, found on the National Registry of Hysterical Places, perched atop the Condimental Divide. It features over five thousand various mustard-filled items from some sixty countries and in flavors as diverse as chocolate( chocolate mustard?), bleu cheese, cranberry, tequila and wasabi, to name a few. Regular performances at the Mustardpiece Theatre will give you more information than you probably ever wanted about the uses, history and varieties of mustard. Try to be there on National Mustard Day, August 4.
Have a hankering to go abroad? How about the Friet Museum in Brugge, Belgium? The edible etoile (star) here is–don’t call them French–fries. The proprietors are firm in their belief that fried potatoes–frites--originated in Belgium, not France, after the origin of the potato itself in Peru some 15,000 or so years ago, of course. There are displays, demonstrations, videos, samples–no burgers.
You could go Asian and visit Shin-Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan to explore the wonders of ramen. This is a Chinese-style noodle that the Japanese have taken to with a vengeance and the museum is part displays, exhibits (utensils, bowls, aprons chopsticks, etc) and souvenir shop, part commercials and displays, videos and games and part–underground–a mini historical theme park and restaurant mall, featuring regional ramen specialities. You can take the bullet train to get there.
Or get a “twofer” (Italian-American) by coming home to the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia where you’ll find the Pizza Brain, a combination pizza shop and museum featuring, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest pizza memorabilia collection. Betcha didn’t know there was a category for that! The two dudes who run the place have pizza tattoos (One says, “Totally Saucesome”); they also have a pizza Walkman, pizza clocks, toys, puzzles, pillows, vinyl records with songs about pizza and–Jumpin’ Jovians–a genuine stainless steel U. S. S. Enterprise Star Trek pizza cutter. A cultural icon if I ever heard of one.
More possibilities coming up.