Saturday, October 8, 2005

Food in a Museum? Why not!

We took Friday off and headed to Providence, RI for the day. I am surprised we still haven't been there after living in Boston for 6 years. There are many tempting reasons to go: the water-fire festival, great restaurants, and Johnson and Wales Culinary Archives and Museum. We didn't catch water-fire this time. The restaurants were seriously disappointing, even though we ate at all the "right" places according to chowhound and egullet. But the Culinary Museum was just fantastic -- it was more fun than I've had in museum in a long time.

Cooking utensils from Pompeii, 300 year old cookbooks, and first refrigerator models (with humongous coils on top that made them look like space ships) are not things one normally finds at William and Sonoma or Crate and Barrel.

The American Diner exhibit was entertaining. We learned all kinds of diner slang, like "Pittsburgh the outside" (meat charred on the outside, while still red within), "Irish turkey" (corned beef and cabbage), and "First lady" (spareribs -- a pun on Eve being made out of Adam's rib). If I were to try these at one of the local diners, I wonder if they'd know what I was talking about? And did you know the origin of the restaurant term "86"? When the kitchen runs out of a dish, they "86" it. One of the theories about the origin of this term came from Chumley's restaurant in New York City that threw out rowdy customers from their back door, which was 86 Bedford Street.

The old stoves was my favorite part of the museum. They were so cute, they could be used as characters for Disney movies. Come to think of it, in Russian folklore, wood burning stove often appears as a walking and talking character of fairy tales. Hmm, I wonder if my love of stoves has something to do with me growing up on Russian fairy tales.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog the other day- I've been searching around for a good Providence food blog, and your site came up in my google search. You mentioned in this post how disappointing you found the restaurants you tried while in RI. I moved to Providence recently and had been toying around with the idea of starting a food blog, and your comment made me commit to it! I'm hoping to shed some light on the Providence restaurant scene but also share some of my favorite recipes. Great to read your blog!