7 Best (And Worst) Museums To Visit On An Empty Stomach
Some folks plan whole trips around a restaurant (or ten), a signature dish, or an edible obsession. (I once vowed to eat gelato three times a day during an 11–day trip through Italy with a girlfriend—and we both held up our end of the bargain.) But simply eating something doesn’t always deliver context—which is what makes the food part of travel so fascinating, and why we devote a whole issue of our magazine to the topic each year (find our May/June Food Issue on newsstands now!). So here, we present seven museums across the country that have built entire exhibitions around a type of cuisine, a way of eating, or even a single ingredient. (Some even let you try the goods, too.) No, it’s not the same as eating your way through the best little pastry shops in Paris—but you just might learn something.
The American Museum of Natural History in New York is staging a monthly series called “Adventures in the Global Kitchen,” featuring themed lectures and tastings on a different topic each month. The next one, on May 3, covers the cultural history of tequila and chilies ($30); Juan Carlos Aguirre from Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders and Courtenay Greenleaf of Richard Sandoval Restaurants are running the presentation, which includes samples of both of the substances in question (score!). The theme for June: Tiki drinks!
Opening May 25 and running through September 2, 2012, “Beer Here: Brewing New York's History” at the New York Historical Society tells the story of both the production and consumption of beer in New York from colonial times through Prohibition and on to the present day. (Fun fact: In the mid–1800s, New York state was the top producer of hops in the whole country!) Visitors will learn about the nutritional content of colonial–era beer, the chain of technological advances in brewing, and the old–time advertisements and slogans used by past New York brewers. The best part: At the end of the exhibition, there’s a pop–up beer hall, where, on Saturdays throughout the summer, half–hour beer tasting events ($35) will be held at 2pm and 4pm, led by brewers and brewery owners from in–state labels like Kelso Beer Co., Keegan Ales, Ithaca Beer Company, and Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.
Through June 10, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington in Seattle has “Hungry Planet: What the World Eats,” a fascinating (and slightly voyeuristic) presentation of the eating habits of families in 10 countries. The photo–driven exhibit was culled from Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio’s even wider–reaching project from a few years back, in which they photographed 600 meals eaten by 30 families in 24 countries—including a snapshot of each household with a week’s worth of groceries laid out next to them. The disparities from one group to the next are nothing less than shocking—and will likely make you reconsider what you put in the cart on your next visit to the supermarket.
In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service collaborated on “Sweet and Sour,” an examination of the history of Chinese food in the United States. The exhibit’s cache of photographs, vintage signs, cooking and eating utensils, and memorabilia will be on view in Washington through the end of 2012, before it moves on to its next location (which is still to be determined). One surprise addition to the trove: The Virginia Mericle Menu Collection, a shipment of more than 4,500 Chinese–restaurant menus amassed over the course of Mericle’s lifetime, was donated to the museum by her daughter, Virginia Henderson, after Mericle’s death in 2009.
Another ode to the culinary contributions of immigrant groups is on display through August 3 in Birmingham, Alabama’s Vulcan Park and Museum: “Beyond Barbecue and Baklava: The Impact of Greek Immigrants on Birmingham’s Culture and Cuisine.” Its centerpiece is the 1946 neon sign from the city’s iconic Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs—now a popular photo op for visitors to the museum—which is supplemented with photos and mementos from 100 years of Greek restaurants citywide.
At first glance, a new exhibit at New Haven, Connecticut’s Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, might make you lose your appetite. “Big Food: Health, Culture, and the Evolution of Eating” (through December 2, 2012) takes a hard look at the American diet as it stands today—as well as the societal and economic factors that have shaped it over time. It’s part of a months–long program that incorporates tough–love teaching tools, documentary screenings, and weighty lectures—on the politics of the “sugar pandemic”; on which cultures have the healthiest diets; on the sinister secrets of food advertising. But the program’s organizers balance out the bad news with fun, like a tasting night with local chefs on May 10, and a healthy–food–focused Fiesta Latina in October. (The schedule is still being updated, so check Peabody.yale.edu for more events.)
If that’s too much reality for you, then just mark your calendars for December 9, 2012, when the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe cuts the ribbon on its exhibit “New World Cuisine: The Histories of Chocolate, Maté y Mas,” which looks at the earliest imports and exports of foods to and from the Americas, and the roles played by specific products (in particular, drinks made from chocolate and maté) that Europeans went crazy for. How do you say “chocoholic” in French?
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More Smartphone Owners Using Their Devices For Travel
It might not come as a surprise that smartphones are increasingly becoming essential travel tools. A recent survey has confirmed that, in fact, 51 percent of smartphone owners are using their devices to access travel content, and nearly one in five use their devices to actually book travel. While most smartphone users are still using their devices to gather information, a comScore survey of mobile travelers age 18 and older conducted the three months ended February 2012, found that 21 percent of smartphone consumers checked in for a flight on their device, 18 percent booked a flight on their smartphone, and 10 percent canceled a flight on their phone. "Smartphones have really stepped in to meet a variety of needs for travelers, such as coordination of schedules, locations, trip itineraries and transactions," said Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of mobile. Twenty-six percent of smartphone users check airfares on their mobile device, while 25 percent look up an airline phone number, flight schedules, and check a flight status. Here is a breakdown of how smartphone users are using their devices to access flight information: Checked airfare prices: 26% Looked up a phone number (i.e. airline): 25% Looked at flight schedules: 25% Checked a flight status (arrival/delays): 25% Looked up airport information: 24% Checked in for a flight: 21% Received price alerts for flights: 19% Booked a flight: 18% Received SMS alerts for a flight status: 17% Tracked the status of a checked bag: 13% Canceled a flight: 10% And here, how smartphone users are using their devices to access hotel information: Looked up hotel address/directions: 29% Looked up/ researched attractions/ things to do at my destination/near my hotel: 23% Looked up/researched places to eat at my destination/near my hotel: 22% Read a hotel review: 22% Compared hotel prices & availability: 21% Booked a hotel room: 18% Received price alerts for hotels: 18% Looked up/researched ground transportation at my destination/near my hotel: 17% Cancelled a hotel reservation: 10% How do you use your smartphone when you travel? What kind of information or tools are helpful to you when you’re visiting a new city or a foreign land? Let us know by commenting below. More from Budget Travel: A More Comfortable Hotel Stay? There's an App for That Should You Be Charged For Booking a Rental Car and Not Picking It Up? Do You Embrace Technology When You Travel?
If Tourists Can't Buy Pot, Will Amsterdam Tourism Suffer?
Amsterdam is beloved for its canals, houseboats, museums, bikes, pancakes, and yes, for its cannabis. But a government plan to prohibit foreigners from buying marijuana in the Netherlands could put a damper on tourists' high. The government has proposed a plan that would only allow Dutch residents, not foreigners, to purchase marijuana, The Associated Press reported. The new regulations go into effect in the south of the country on May 1 and are scheduled to be enacted nationwide on Jan. 1, 2013. It's still unclear how and whether the regulations would impact the famed coffeeshops of Amsterdam. "The national government would like to introduce a national membership card system for coffeeshops in the Netherlands [that] would effectively ban tourists from visiting coffeeshops and purchasing soft drugs," the City of Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Tourism & Convention Board explained on their joint website. "Under the new scheme, only Dutch residents of legal age would be eligible for a membership card." "The City of Amsterdam has concerns about these plans, and recently commissioned research into the potential impact of the so-called 'weed pass,'" the site stated. The City of Amsterdam has been working to convince the government that the 'weed pass' initiative would be counterproductive. "If tourists are denied access to coffeeshops, illegal sales and drug dealing on the streets of Amsterdam will increase," the City of Amsterdam has argued. "The City of Amsterdam does not want to facilitate soft drug use by tourists, but to help those who wish to use drugs to do so as responsibly as possible." The City of Amsterdam reported that 23% of tourists visit a coffeeshop during their stay in the city. The Dutch Cabinet decided on the regulation to restrict cannabis consumption by foreigners last year as part of an effort to put a cap on drug tourism — visitors who come to the country solely to purchase and consume cannabis. On Wednesday, Dutch coffee shop owners went to court in a last ditch effort to block the government plan, AP reported. A ruling is expected on April 27. Stay tuned, stoners. More from Budget Travel: Like Everyone Else, Airlines Are Feeling Pain At The Pump Top 10 TSA Checkpoint Freakouts, Humiliations, and Confrontations United Passengers: How Long Have You Been On Hold?
Like Everyone Else, Airlines Are Feeling Pain At The Pump
A couple months ago, we theorized that high gas prices would put an end to the summer road trip. But it's not just car owners that are worried about summer travel. What if you had to fill the tank on a 220,000-pound 757? And then fly it over the country? According to an article in USA Today, Southwest Airlines lost $18 million in the first quarter, while American Airlines' parent company reported a loss of $1.7 billion. Yes, other factors come into play, but rising fuel prices are a significant factor in the losses (even with higher revenue from ticket sales). The company reported that $325 million was spent on fuel in the beginning of 2012, a 17.6% increase over the same time last year. It's should not come as a surprise, then, that airfare for summer 2012 is expected to keep inching up and up. As Rick Seaney, the CEO of FareCompare.com, advised last month, don't wait to book. Chances are, that flight isn't going to get any cheaper. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Top 10 TSA Checkpoint Freakouts, Humiliations, and Confrontations Do You Embrace Technology When You Travel? Planning a Quick Getaway? Don't Make These Common Mistakes
Top 10 TSA Checkpoint Freakouts, Humiliations, and Confrontations
Here's a look back at some odd, ugly, infamous, occasionally nude face-offs between airline passengers and TSA security officials. Voluntary Public Nudity, Part I In early April, an apparently disturbed woman removed all of her clothing in full view of airline passengers and workers at Denver's airport. The woman, who was smoking, was asked by airport workers to put out her cigarette. She responded by taking off all of her clothes, and the only explanation offered to quick-to-appear police officers was that she was exhausted from a lack of sleep the night before. Voluntary Public Nudity, Part II Just this week, a man got naked at Portland's airport, though he has a better reason for going au naturel than a poor night's sleep: He was protesting what he categorized as harassment by TSA security workers. 85-Year-Old Grandma's Very Involuntary Strip Search Toward the end of 2011, news broke regarding the treatment of an elderly woman's treatment by security at New York's JFK airport. The 4-foot, 11-inch 85-year-old grandmother, who needs a walker to get around, claims that she was forced to remove her pants and show her colostomy bag during a humiliating strip search. Sen. Rand Paul's Showdown in Nashville In January, the U.S. Senator from Kentucky missed his flight out of Nashville when he was escorted out of the screening area by security officials because the body scanner alarm went off and Paul refused to go through a pat-down. Cancer Survivor Forced to Remove Prosthetic Breast In Charlotte in 2010, a cancer survivor who had worked as a flight attendant for over three decades, was forced to remove her prosthetic breast from her bra during a pat-down that she described as "aggressive." Pat Down of 3-Year-Old in a Wheelchair On his way to Orlando to visit Disney World, a 3-year-old boy in a wheelchair was subjected to a pat-down by security officials at Chicago's O'Hare airport last month. While trying to remain calm and reassure his son, the boy's father recorded the pat-down and later posted the video on YouTube. Anger and Humiliation in Raleigh-Durham Among the travelers upset with pat-downs at the Raleigh-Durhman airport in 2010 was a retired Army officer who filed a complaint after being groped around his genitals. A TSA worker explained that the pat-down was being conducted because "there was something suspicious hanging from between" the man's legs, to which he responded, "that something suspicious was my [genitals], you dummy." "Don't Grab My Junk, Bro" In 2010, a 31-year-old software programmer named John Tyner secretly recorded his pat-down at San Diego's airport, during which Tyner criticized the process and famously said, "Don't grab my junk, bro," to the TSA worker responsible for the physical pat-down. Tyner, who also is heard saying, "I don’t understand how a sexual assault can be made a condition of my flying," posted the video on his blog, and it quickly went viral. The Phoenix Freakout A woman went ballistic after a TSA workers reportedly grabbed her breasts during an inspection at the Phoenix airport. A video of the event, which occurred on New Year's Eve of 2010, made its way to YouTube. The No-ID Confrontation in Albuquerque In January of 2011, a Seattle man was acquitted of all charges related to a confrontation with Albuquerque airport security, in which the many refused to show ID and insisted on videotaping the showdown with his cell phone. On the video, the man is heard saying, "I know my rights!" Apparently, he did indeed. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 4 Most Controversial Blog Posts of 2012 (So Far) The Tweet That Got Two Tourists Barred from the U.S. Busted for Bringing Cupcakes and Bagels Through TSA Checkpoints?