It’s time to cast aside your notions of museums being sterile, boring places where “look, but don’t touch!” seems to be the credo. The entries on this list are places that take the idea of a museum and give it a delicious twist. Yes, we’ve got food museums where eating the exhibits is not just tolerated, but rampantly encourage!
So, sit back and get your appetites in order as we visit five such unique food museums around the world...
1. Show Cheese Factory and Museum, Switzerland
Set within the hallowed precincts of a fully-functional Benedictine monastery, the Show Cheese Factory and Museum is perhaps the greatest attraction of the small town of Engelberg in central Switzerland. The historic displays and live cheese making demonstrations here serve to highlight how since the 17th century, the most important source of income for the monastery and the people of the valley of Engelberg has been cheese trade. Today, the onsite cheese makers take pride in demonstrating the ancient art of cheese making. It is here where fresh milk, coming from cows which feed in the lush Engelberg pastures and surrounding Alps, is used to produce the delicious Swiss Monastery Cheese, particularly the very popular Engelberger Klosterglocke soft cream cheese that takes its bell shape from the monastery’s bell that tolls promptly on the hour every single day. (engelberg.ch)
2. The Chocolate Line, Brugge, Belgium
Housed along Antwerp, Belgium’s pedestrianised Meir shopping area The Chocolate Line is not just a mere chocolate store-cum-museum, but the holy grail of bizarre and wonderful chocolate experiences and sensations. Started by world-famous chocolatier Dominique Persoone, this place offers more than just a glimpse into the history of chocolate from bean to bar. Here one can find paintings and sculptures made from chocolate, and also indulge in sniffing a line of powdered chocolate. This comes to you in the form of The Chocolate Shooter. This tiny spring-triggered contraption is what one uses to ‘snort up' powdered flavoured (mint, raspberry and ginger) cocoa up the nose for the ultimate theobromine-induced high. But hang on! There’s more wackiness in the form of a line of bizarre, yet delicious fried onion, saffron curry and wasabi-flavoured chocolates that one can nibble on. (thechocolateline.be)
3. Shinyokohama Raumen Museum, Yokohama, Japan
Not content to call itself a mere museum, the Shinyokohama Raumen Museum in Yokohama, Japan much prefers the 'Theme Park' label. And rightly so. Established in 1994 and featuring the mock-up of 1958 (the year instant noodles were invented) old Tokyo Street lined with ramen shops, the museum is the go-to place for your fill of everything related to the steaming bowl of noodles. You can taste a mind-boggling variety of ramen from the traditional tonkatsu ramen to the more recent kariramen (curry-flavoured ramen) and know more about the dish via the interactive kiosks and exhibits. And just before you leave, you can (for an additional fee) get your own customised brand of instant ramen noodles made and packaged to your specifications. (raumen.co.jp)
4. World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, USA
Did you know that Coca-Cola was first invented by John Pemberton, a US pharmacist, as a health tonic in 1885? Or that Mexico holds the record as the country with the highest annual consumption of Coca-Cola per capita? It is factoids like these that one comes across at the mammoth World of Coca-Cola museum housed in the US city of Atlanta which also happens to be the company’s headquarters. The first part of the museum is full of Coke memorabilia be it advertisement billboards, posters or kitschy souvenirs. But the real treat lies in its second section where visitors get to try unlimited quantities of each and every product under the Coca-Cola company’s portfolio—past and present—from soft drink dispensing fountains. Yes, even our very own desi cola ThumsUp is on tap! (worldofcoca-cola.com)
5. Disgusting Food Museum, Malmö, Sweden
Ever heard of surströmming? Or perhaps Casu Marzu? No? Well, neither had we till we visited the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmö, Sweden. With 80 of the world's most disgusting food available to taste and explore—including the aforementioned surströmmingwhich, by the way, is a stinky, fermented herring fish of Scandinavian origin and the maggot-infested Casu Marzu cheese from Sardinia, Italy—this Museum isn’t for the faint of heart. Or for the squeamish of stomach for that matter! This museum’s philosophy is simple, in that it invites visitors to explore the world of food and challenge their preconceived notions of what’s edible and what’s not. So, how about a bite of cuy, which is what roasted guinea pig is called in Peru, on your next visit to this unique museum? (disgustingfoodmuseum.com)