Experiencing the food of a culture affords you the opportunity to learn something that information pamphlets, architecture, and historical sites can’t always teach you.
That’s why when I travel it’s a priority to try as many local foods as possible. It gives me a deeper understanding and experience of the place and its people. Aside from that, I’m a foodie at heart and what better way to experience a new country than to savor new flavors.
During my European trip, there were a few food museums that I managed to visit. Here are some interesting museums that you should visit while trekking through Europe. While I usually share experiences that are outside of the tourist blinds, I found that visiting food museums is an easy way to explore the unique taste buds of Europe.
Best Food Museums of Europe
Choco Story Museum (Belgium)
Choco Story Museum is housed in a 15th century wine tavern, located in close proximity to the Market Place in Bruges. Dip into the history of the area and learn about the process of processing cocoa into chocolate at the Choco Story Museum. The museum is well known for its chocolate displays that captivate and educate its visitors. Some of the history at this museum dates back to the Aztec era and takes you on the journey right up until the present day. If you’re looking to make some chocolate at home, this is a good place to pick the brains of chocolate experts at the museum.
Of course, with it being a chocolate museum, chocolates are being made by hand and so guests are welcome to sample these delicious delights. What’s more, guests have the opportunity to watch live chocolate-making demonstrations. Before the end of the tour, be sure to pop into the small gift shop to sample from the lip-smacking pralines and perhaps purchase a few treats for yourself or family at home.
Cork Butter Museum (Ireland)
Situated in the historic Shandon area of Cork City, the Cork Butter Museum is a unique institution, which celebrates the success story of Ireland in the butter trade.
Of course, the story begins where the making of butter begins – milk, which plays an integral role in the dairy culture of Ireland. The museum boasts the internationally renowned Butter Exchange in 19th century Cork along with the traditional craft of homemade butter and the modern success of the Kerrygold brand. In addition, the museum manages to feature the commercial, social and domestic side of life in Ireland.
There’s more. The museum also includes the gallery display that teaches visitors about the Irish practice, which preserves butter in bogs and the importance of milch cows and cattle raiding in medieval Ireland.
My favorite part: exploring the ground floor that displays traditional butter making and a gallery dedicated to the culture of cattle and dairy in early Ireland. Here you’ll be able to see the high regard the Irish placed on cows in their society. You’ll discover that this practice is more than a source for butter and cheese but a measure of wealth and standing.
Museum of Bread Culture (Germany)
The Museum of Bread Culture was founded in 1955 in Ulm, Germany. The museum features a collection of over 16, 000 objects and artworks. The collection relates to the origin, history and transformation of bread, which include paintings and sculptures. The museum is housed in the historic 16th century building called the Salt Barn.
What I found interesting at the museum is the indispensable popularity, bread had in the past and even today in human culture and civilization. It is the foundation of most meals around the world.
The culture of the bread museum is probably not something many people will consider due to its global standing. Willy Eiselen and Hermann Eiselen began a bread enterprise in 1955 which presented an exhibition dedicated to the culture around bread. It was the first of its kind and remained a private institute until 1991. Now, it is one the largest charitable foundations in the world.
Today the museum is home to 16, 000 artifacts related to the history of bread and remains open to the public. Even though it is a museum dedicated to bread, you wouldn’t find a crumb in the museum, which reflects the belief of the founders that bread is not an artifact but food that should be “freshly baked every day”.
For the avid history enthusiast, part of the museum is dedicated to 600 illustrations that describe bread in its many forms. Count in the art and equipment at the museum, and you’re exposed to the largest known collection that revolves around bread culture throughout European history.
Gelato Museum (Italy)
The Gelato Museum is located in the Carpigiani headquarters at Anzola dell’Emilia in an industrial space. It has been transformed into an innovative structure with a specific focus on the study and analysis of the historic significance of gelato in Italy’s history.
Visit the Gelato Museum in Italy and explore everything there is to know about gelato, which has since become a global sensation. Learn about the innovators who drove its evolution over the centuries.
Dating back to its inception up until today, the museum displays an interactive tour that highlights the themes around gelato, these include: 1)the evolution of gelato, 2) the history of production technology, and 3) the places and ways it is consumed.
What’s more, the museum is home to various artifacts and information regarding gelato, such as: 1)20 original machines 2)multimedia presentations, 3)thousands of historical images and documents 4)tools and accessories and 5)original video interviews.
While the above-listed museums may have a focus on a particular type of food, I found that the information gave me a fresh perspective into how the role of these ingredients integrated into the culture and history of the each country.
For sure, travelling should include breath taking scenery and historic sites but when it comes to understanding the culture and its people, it’s essential to experience their foods. I can confidently say that exploring a country from a foodie’s perspective contributed to my understanding of a continent that is filled with beautiful diversity.