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May 2019 Wine of the Month Review - The Museum of Disgusting Food
We were recently in Scandinavia – primarily for the conducting debut of a young Australian, Jennifer Condon. This event, in Malmo, was certainly a highlight of our first visit to Sweden.
The other was a new museum called The Museum of Disgusting Food. We found it in a repurposed industrial building behind the main train station. After paying our 10 euro entry fee we were handed, instead of tickets, a sick bag. Then we were confronted by a display board which laid out very clearly the aim of the museum, which is, to display all aspects of ‘disgust’ in relation to food.
Our eyes opened as we read past the most obvious classification, which largely relates to smell/taste, to food which comes from animals which have been mistreated, and finally foods which are just ‘foreign’.
At the far end of the museum there is the olfactory box which squirts a complex mix of strong aromas into your face while a camera takes a few snap shots. We had a lot of fun at this display.
As Australians we were vocal about the inclusion of vegemite (which you were invited to taste), and musk sticks. I guess the Americans would have been equally dismayed by the inclusion of gello, and mars bars, the Scots with haggis (ah, I hear you say, now we’re getting to it). But no, the message is what is disgusting to one culture is perfectly normal in others; durian, for example. Although I think the Sardinians are on their own when it comes to the round of pecorino with maggots living inside it (I never worked out if you eat what’s left of the cheese, or the maggots, or both!).
Some exhibits were in lidded jars which you are invited to open and sniff. One of which is a Swedish delicacy herring which is buried and left to ferment. Even smellier was the Greenland shark, which is poisonous because it urinates through its skin. This also has to be fermented before it can be eaten.
The cruelty exhibits start with the ‘low hanging fruit’ like foie gras. We weren’t offered any to taste, instead a video showed the force feeding of the geese. This is followed with displays relating to the mass production of beef and pork.
There were many jars with beetles, bugs and grubs that people and a whole swag of cultures eat. Did you know that cicadas provide 70% more protein (by weight) than beef?
Our last experience was the tasting bar where our host guided us through a number of new experiences. Behind the bar, on a blackboard, they keep a tally of ‘how many days since the last vomit’. Nevertheless we started with a couple of beetles and other crunchy things, then smelly cheeses, some of even smellier fish, durian and chilli. Finally, I was shown a 4 litre jar half-full of a purple liquid with a ovoid object in the bottom. It was the scent gland of an otter in 70% alcohol.
Apparently, a delicacy in northern Sweden, the infused alcohol is drunk neat after about three months.
At the end we left, thinking more seriously about sustainability, cruelty to animals, and being little more accepting of cultural differences, and we are still talking about the experience as we nibbled on a light supper that evening.
It is a highly recommended experience for anyone seriously interested in food.