Cook learnin’

This piece on food museums will make you hella snacky

Published April 19, 2024

Here at Questionist, we love us a good museum. A food museum? Double hooray! 

A museum that triggers a Fear Factor-y dry heave response? We’ll, uh, need to hear more.

According to the website of Berlin’s Disgusting Food Museum, “Our exhibition is an ecological and intercultural place of learning.” In a recent AP piece, the museum’s director elaborated on that: “It is said that [disgust] is the first instance of the immune system, because the brain will let you know when something could contain a disease,” Alexandra Bernsteiner said. “So, in that way disgust is an important feeling.”

Besides, there’s that whole thing about yucking someone else’s yum–or, as the museum puts it, “What is delicious for one person can be repulsive for another.” So what are these selectively-delicious exhibits? A few examples:

  • Surströmming (Swedish fermented Baltic Sea herring) 
  • Durian fruit (the stinky fruit that’s worth  nearly $10 billion a year)
  • Mongolian tomato soup topped with sheep eye
  • Habashu (an alcoholic rice drink from Japan that is infused with a gutted poisonous viper)
  • Bull penis (we’re not even looking up the context for that one)

By now you’ve read enough to decide if a trip to Germany’s in your near future. But if that stuff sounds a little too exotic for you, fear not–we’ve found some other food museums that are a little less niche

Frietmuseum, Bruges, Belgium

Belgians take their fries very seriously. In fact, the nation insists that it’s the real birthplace of deep-fried spuds, hence this museum! Exhibits include the history of potatoes, artwork and photographs, a history of potato peelers and chip-making machines, a video tutorial for making perfect fries at home. None of which sounds that exciting, we admit, but that’s before you exit through the fry-shop, where they’re dropping orders by the minute. Now we’re talking!

Cupnoodles Museum, Yokohama, Japan

The noodle-y fun includes the history of instant ramen, a showroom featuring new and innovative products like space ramen (made for astronauts), and a workshop where you can create your own cup o’ noodles by mix-and-matching flavors and toppings. If that doesn’t fill you up, the food court is modeled after a nighttime food-market experience, complete with sounds of vendors hawking goods and traffic. If you can hear it over your own slurping

Pasta Museum, Rome, Italy

Not much to say about this one; it’s pretty straightforward. We just wanted to remind you that according to corporate science, pasta is almost guaranteed to make you happy.

Kimchi Museum, Seoul, South Korea

Life isn’t all carbo-loading, so this museum is here to remind us that a certain Korean side dish is good for you. But it’s also riotously flavorful, since the veggies (most recognizably cabbage) are fermented with garlic, ginger, chili flakes, and other seasonings. Naturally, you can sample many different kinds at the museum, in between the exhibits on kimchi history and all that.

What about ‘Murica?

We hear you; most of us can’t just drop everything and fly overseas to learn about food. Or if nothing else, visit these places first to avoid flying on an empty stomach:

Yeah, that’s right, we just snuck a cocktail museum in at the end. We’ll race you there!

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