Sunday, August 24, 2014

Food Destinations: Agricultural and Industrial History

By Nina Kendall
Food tells a story. It is a source of economic revenue, and a reflection of geography, industry, and tradition in an area. You can learn about food history from books, by conducting oral history interviews, and through visits to museums and corporations.  Food tourism can be interesting. It is a chance to view a unique slice of history. Here are a few sites to consider:

The World of Coca-Cola is a museum that documents the development of Coca-Cola and the growth of the corporation.  Here you can learn about the strategy of Asa Candler in marketing his product, and see how the corporation has customized its brand for different cultures. In this museum, you can watch a movie, sample drinks from around the world, and see how Coca-Cola is produced. It is a lot of fun for the whole family and ends in the tasting room.

Vidalia Onion Museum documents the history of this unique product. This onion   has transformed a region and made a lasting impact of the food world. The Vidalia Onion Festival has celebrated the impact of this industry for decades.  When traveling through South Georgia you should check it out.  

The SPAM Museum is in St. Austin, Minnesota. This large museum documents the history of this canned meat. Visit this free museum to learn about the varieties of SPAM and try your hand at SPAM trivia. Perhaps this will be a stop on your next road trip.

Hershey’s Chocolate World  is in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Here at the home of the Hershey Company you can enjoy sweet history.  You can learn about how chocolate is made, sample a few varieties, and create your own candy bar. Hershey’s Chocolate World along with other local attractions makes this town a destination.

The Blue Bell Creamery tour is both interesting and delicious. You can arraign for a tour of the factory or just visit the Country Store and Parlor.  With locations in Alabama, Texas, and Oklahoma, you have a number of chances to learn about how ice cream is made.  What a sweet day!

You can learn about the agricultural industry of Hawaii at Dole Plantation in Wahiawa on the island of Oahu. Enjoy a pineapple cutting exhibition or explore the maze and planation gardens.

No matter your destination enjoy a little food history on the way. Learn about the economic impact of food and agricultural industries. See how unique products have shaped this land. It will certainly be a tasty adventure.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Staycation: Exploring the Changes in the Local Food Landscape

By Jeff Burns

            “The best laid plans….”  Our plan to have one lunch per week in a new restaurant or to try a new ethnic cuisine was a good plan, but life got in the way, and we haven’t quite made it each week.  However, we still managed to add some new favorites to our list. Here are a few find from our hunt for the food of a modern land.

            First up:  Villains Wicked Heroes.  Every menu item carries the name of a pop culture villain, from Lucy Van Pelt (Cajun boiled peanuts appetizer of course) to Bluto (a spinach salad) and Goldfinger (a hot brown sandwich hero).  The menu is a lot of fun, and the food is even better.  I enjoyed my favorite Bond villain, Oddjob, and my wife had a Mumm-Ra.

             Second, we visited Sobban- Korean Southern Diner in Decatur, the brainchild of a couple with another very successful restaurant, Heirloom Barbecue.  He’s southern, she’s south Korean, and they discovered that their cultures share many things in common, like a love for barbecue, pork, and pickles.  At Sobban, they’ve masterfully blended the two into many delicious dishes.  We started with a kimchi deviled egg and okara hushpuppies with kimchi  remoulade as appetizers.  (Not okra, okara is a soy pulp, a byproduct of making tofu) Our entrees were a bulgogi beef burger and a fried bologna sandwich – you guessed it, with kimchi – featuring bologna made in house.  It was all great.          

 Finally, we returned to Buford Highway, the most eclectic area of Atlanta.  Within sight at any time might be a Korean, an Indian, a Peruvian, a Mexican, and a Vietnamese restaurant.  We went to the Oriental Pearl, a Chinese dim sum restaurant.  We’ve eaten dim sum at other restaurants, but this was first time at Oriental Pearl.  If you’re not familiar with dim sum, it’s a Cantonese style of cooking bite sized servings on small plates, and servers wheel carts loaded with the offerings around the room.  You tell them what you want, they mark your bill, and the cashier tallies your cost by adding up the plates.  Foods include lots of dumplings and buns stuffed with shrimp, pork, tofu, vegetables, or some combination thereof, squid, chicken feet, and various vegetables.  Most dishes are steamed or fried.  It was a great experience, and I think we’ve found a new favorite dim sum place.