Saturday, July 28, 2012

10 interesting food museums from around the world

While many people visit museums in order to learn about culture, art, or history, how many out there can say they've gone to a museum to see an exhibit on SPAM? Or to learn the processing history of salami? While somewhat out of the norm, these 10 interesting food museums from around the world will give you insight and fun facts into some of your favorite cuisine.

Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia 

Location: Burlingame, California
From vintage Pez dispensers to new Pez-related items, come to Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia to learn the history of Pez as well as buy Pez products. The highlight of the museum is seeing the world's largest Pez dispenser, which is in the form of a 7 ft' 10'' tall snowman and can hold 6,480 Pez candies. And if you get sick of looking at Pez dispensers all day, the museum also has a Classic Toy Museum and a Banned Toy Museum on site.
Located at 214 California Dr. Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10AM-6PM.

The SPAM Museum

Location: Austin, Minnesota

The SPAM Museum is a tribute to this pre-cooked, canned meat that includes vintage advertising, memorabilia, SPAM trivia, and interactive exhibits. Visitors can even test their SPAM-canning skills as well as learn about the large role SPAM played in the diet of WWII soldiers. See walls made entirely of SPAM cans and ceilings holding massive burger buns as you walk through this retro-style museum.

SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota Fun Fact: An actor from New York named Kenneth Daigneau won a contest in 1936 put on by the creator of SPAM, Jay Hormel, that allowed him to choose the name for the canned meat. Mr. Daigneau chose SPAM, which is where the name comes from. He also won $100, which today could have bought him $1,500 in SPAM products.

Located at 1101 North Main St. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday, 10AM-5PM, and Sunday, 12PM-5PM. 

The Pick Salami and Szeged Paprika Museum 

Location: Szeged, Hungary

Pick salami and paprika museum in hungary The Pick Salami and Szeged Paprika Museumgives visitors a chance to learn everything there is to know about Pick salami and paprika through a showcase of photographs, history lessons on founder Mark Pick, production displays, and butchering guides. The best part of the museum is the life-size wooden dolls wearing authentic costumes that are setup in ways that depict scenes in the salami and paprika making process with production equipment out on display. Luckily, the Picks are still in business so after learning about these delicious treats you can purchase some for yourself.

Located at Felso Tisza-Part 10 . Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 3PM-6PM. 

The National Mustard Museum

Location: Middleton, Wisconsin

Musard museum in Minnesota How much could there possibly be to learn about mustard? Apparently, a lot. The National Mustard Museum is home to more than 5,600 different types of mustard, including kinds from all 50 states as well as over 60 different countries. Visitors can sample the different varieties, some of which include tequila, chocolate, and cranberry mustard, for free at the Tasting Bar, where you will be guided on a sensual (and sometimes spicy) experience by a Confidential Condiments Counselor. A visit to the National Mustard Museum is not only a tour for the taste buds, however, but also for the eyes, as you admire antique mustard pots, reminisce over vintage mustard ads, view a film at the Mustardpiece Theatre (The Sound of Mustard, anyone?), take a mustard cooking class, and more.

Located at 7477 Hubbard Ave. Museum hours are 10AM-5PM, daily. 

The Chocolate Museum Cologne 

Location: CologneGermany

Chocolate museum in cologne, germanyOf course, what food-related list would be complete without chocolate. What makes the Chocolate Museum Cologne unique is that it's more than just displays of chocolate. At this museum you will travel through three levels of chocolate history, spanning over 3,000 years. Level one will introduce you to the cocoa tree, as you literally visit a tropical house to admire one up close. Next, see a glass chocolate factory to learn about the production of this sweet staple. On the next level visitors are introduced to chocolate as a luxury item, beginning in Mesoamerica. The final level allows you to peruse chocolate advertising and signs, watch films in the chocolate cinema, and see chocolate items that developed a cult following. There are lots of interesting tidbits of chocolate knowledge to learn here. For instance, did you know that 80 years ago the high calorie content in chocolate was seen as a good thing? I definitely would have liked to be around back then.

Located at Am Schokoladenmuseum 1a, 50678. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10AM-6PM, Saturday-Sunday, 11AM to 7PM. 

The International Banana Club Museum

Location: Hesperia, California

international banana club museum in california I have never seen anyone as bananas for anything as Ken Bannister, the founder of the International Banana Club Museum, is for, well, bananas. This museum, decorated with banana art, clocks, photographs, and more, holds the largest collection dedicated to one fruit in the world and is the perfect place to come if you're looking for something a little more on the wacky side. Begin in the "Hard" section and browse through pipes, trees, pins, knives, golf putters, belts, rings, cups, and more, all with a banana theme. There is even a rock-hard petrified banana that has been in the museum since 1975. Next, check out the "Food, Drink, and Notions" section, including banana-related foods, drinks, soaps, oils...even banana tobacco. The final sections are the "Clothing Section" (banana nose, anyone?) and the "Soft" section, which is the perfect place to end your day at the museum, as there is an eight-foot long banana couch and tons of comfortable banana pillows

Located at 16367 Main St. Museum hours are Tues-Thurs, 9AM-1PM, and the first Saturday of each month, 9AM-1PM. 

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum

Location: TokyoJapan

Raumen museum in tokyo, japan Who would have guessed that your favorite meal in college (or the only one you knew how to cook) had an entire museum dedicated to it? The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum includes a huge recreation of Tokyo as it looked in 1958, the year Raumen (or Ramen) was created. Visitors also get the chance to dine in some of the most well-known Raumen noodle restaurants in existence. Walk near walls covered in Raumen packages, browse Raumen and houseware displays, watch Raumen commercials on replay, and enjoy interactive Raumen video games.

Located within walking distance of Shin-Yokohama Train Station. Museums hours are 11AM-10PM, daily. 

Deutsches Currywurst Museum

Location: BerlinGermany

currywurst museum in berlin germany One may wonder why a city would decide to dedicate an entire museum to curried sausage. The truth is, there is no German dish that "inspires as many stories, preferences, and celebrity connoisseurs" as currywurst. While this may sound a bit dramatic, a visit to the Deutsches Currywurst Museum may make you a believer, as well. Get your picture taken at the old-fashioned snack bar, explore the spice chamber to solve the mystery search for the perfect ingredients, and take in the unique decor including a sausage sofa, over-sized ketchup drops hanging from the ceiling, and humongous fry displays. Visiting Deutsches Currywurst Museum is also a learning experience, as you hear about currywurst history and legends, take part in the experimental kitchen, and watch some famous currywurst scenes on film.

Located at SchÜtzenstrausse 70. Museum hours are 10AM-10PM, daily. 

The Idaho Potato Museum

Location: Blackfoot, Idaho

idaho poato museum Being that the potato is Idaho's most famous product, it is no wonder that there would be anIdaho Potato Museum dedicated to the starchy vegetable. This museum holds a lot of information about the history of the potato, including a film about the development of the potato industry, old farming equipment, as well as educational exhibits of the harvesting process and nutrition. The real attraction at this museum, however, is the world's largest potato chip, which, according toRoadside America, is a 25x14-inch Pringle created in 1991 by engineers at Proctor and Gamble. The gift shop here is also worth mentioning, as it sells all kinds of potato-related gifts including potato ice cream and potato fudge.

Location is 130 NW Main St. Museum hours are April-September, Monday-Saturday, 9:30AM-5PM and October-March, Monday-Friday, 9:30AM-3:30PM. 


Location: Brugge, Belgium

Frietmuseum in brugge, belgiumAfter discussing a museum dedicated to the potato, it is only fair to talk about a museum dedicated to the world's favorite potato product, the French fry. Frietmuseum is the first museum in the world dedicated to the fry. While fried potatos are an international treat, what many people may not know is that they actually originated in Belgium. While you will learn the history of French fries and condiments at Frietmuseum, what really attracts tourists is the Saaihalle, the 14th century building that it is housed in. When sampling some of the museum's fried cuisine, you will be taken downstairs to the medieval cellars of this building, which is the oldest in Brugge.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

LAX Construction on Tom Bradley International Terminal to Cause 'Severe' Traffic Delays

Construction on the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) starts today, and officials are warning travelers of major traffic delays near the terminal.
Part of the first phase of the $23.5 million project, the construction will give the TBIT's facade a facelift, including replacing the glass canopies in front of the terminal to match those detailed in the modern architectural design for the new international terminal currently under construction. Slated for completion in spring 2013, the project will also update the terminal with new outside escalators, signage and energy-efficient lighting, according to City News Service.
Here's what you need to know regarding maneuvering the TBIT during construction. The departure level curbside lane between the international terminal and Terminal 4 will be closed, and the first entrance to the terminal is closed to passenger drop-off. Cars will, however, be permitted to drop off passengers at the second and third entrances. The pedestrian sidewalk along the terminal will remain fully open.
"It's going from the mid-'80s-type of architecture to this new, sleek, curved, metal-type of architecture in a lot of new buildings," Albert Rodriguez, a spokesman for LAX, told L.A. Times.
CNS says the project "is expected to cause severe traffic backups near the terminal," and existing lane closures related to the $438 million Central Utility Plant Replacement Project won't help with congestion. Curbside lanes between Terminal 3 and the Tom Bradley terminal will remain closed on the departure and arrival levels as the airport replaces the 50-year-old power plant with a modern facility. Additionally, roadwork that will prompt lane closures has been planned in order to add 8.7 miles of piping between the new central utility plant and terminals.
Airport officials hope passengers, motorists, airport employees and vendors heed their warnings to allow more time traveling to and from the airport.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

TSA to introduce passenger prescreening at United's LAX terminals

The Transportation Security Administration program that allows prescreened passengers to move more quickly through security is scheduled to expand next week to United Airlines in Terminal 7 at LAX.
The program, known as PreCheck, is already in place at LAX for select Delta and American passengers. Under the program, such passengers may not have to remove their shoes or lightweight outerwear or remove their laptop or liquids from their carry-on during screening.
“All of our customers absolutely love it,” said Alexandria Marren, senior vice president of network operations for United and United Express, under which security falls. United, which implements the LAX plan Tuesday, hopes to have 24 airports using the program by the end of the year.
To become one of the chosen, passengers need to be frequent fliers. What exactly that means — whether you need to have achieved “elite” frequent flier program status or you fly six times a year — isn’t clear and neither the TSA nor United said they could discuss that.
Passengers who are members of the Customers and Border Protection's Trusted Traveler programs, which include Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS, also may be eligible for expedited screening.
Information indicating that the passenger has the prescreening stamp of approval is embedded in the barcode of the boarding pass. TSA would not say how that process works. The process did require some additional barcode-reading equipment at some checkpoints, TSA said.
Marren said the expedited process moves passengers through the security 2 1/2 times faster than regular screening.
The program, which was rolled out in October, has so far screened  more than 1.7 million passengers, the TSA estimates.

Friday, July 20, 2012

36 Hours in Cologne

36 Hours in Cologne, Germany

ONE of the oldest cities in Germany, Cologne has been drawing visitors since at least the year 50 A.D., when it was officially founded as the Roman outpost of Colonia. Today the big attractions are the city’s ancient (and gargantuan) cathedral, vibrant night life, a great native beer called Kölsch, and eau de cologne, invented here in 1709, not to mention the ever-present Rhine River. But the city the Germans know as Köln is hardly resting on its former achievements. New surprises just keep showing up. After crossing off bucket-list items like exploring the cathedral and crawling through legendary Kölsch pubs, you can easily spend an entire weekend focusing on the shops, restaurants and hotels that have opened (or reopened) within the past few years.

Day 1: Medieval Churches

Where else to begin your journey through Cologne than the glorious Kölner Dom, the city’s twin-spired cathedral that miraculously escaped unscathed from the bombing raids of World War II. Packed with art treasures, work first began on the building in 1248 and wasn’t complete until 1880. Inside, the building is a symphony of light and space thanks to the flying buttresses, stained-glass windows and richly carved choir stalls. Many other medieval churches fill the old city, including turreted Gross St. Martin above Fischmarkt and the lovely church of St. Ursula. For a view of Cologne’s towers from the Rhine, take an atmospheric afternoon or evening dinner cruise.

Day 2: Cologne Museums

Cologne is a cultural gem, and not only because of its churches. See sculptures, tombs, mosaics, ruins and entire bits of wall from Roman times at the Roman-German Museum. Trace the history of art by admiring the Wallraf-Richartz Museum’s collection of Dutch masters, medieval treasures at the Museum Schnütgen, and 20th century and postmodern art at the Museum Ludwig. Cologne’s history is unraveled at the Kölnisches Stadtmuseum, the city’s Third Reich experience at EL-DE Haus, and gorgeous textiles and designs are displayed at the Museum of Applied Arts.

Day 3: Cologne Cuisine

There’s much more to Cologne’s dining and wining scene than raucous beer halls with oompah-pah bands and sauerkraut – though there’s a lot to be said for spending a night drinking arm-in-arm with your neighbors at a tavern. The local beer is called Kölsch, and the food you’ll encounter in beer halls and regional restaurants includes hearty blood sausage, potato pancakes with apple sauce, and open sandwiches on pumpernickel bread. Step outside the beer taverns and the world is your oyster, from Japanese sushi and Middle Eastern falafel to crepes, pizza and pasta.

Hotels in Cologne
Sightseeing in Cologne

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Web Buzz: Plan your trip at

What it does: Helps you plan a day-by-day trip itinerary
Cost: Free
What's hot: I love the idea of making a day-by-day itinerary and then downloading it as a PDF when I'm done, as well as being able to access it from my smartphone or iPad. But after testing the app on my iPad, and also checking out the website, the latter is the way to start. Go to the home page on the website and look for a suggested trip plan such as "3 Day Trip to San Francisco or "Paris in One Day" and click on the Modify Trip Now button to make it your own. Once you're done modifying an itinerary, use the Add Your Own button to place specific restaurants, shops or addresses on your map and itinerary. The end result, as a PDF, is beautiful and book-like.
What's not: Where are the restaurants? When I tried to plan a trip to San Francisco, most of the pins marked places of interest. The few times I did find something food-related, it was usually a place to party or grab a beer.
Worth it: Yes, but there are stumbling blocks, and it requires patience. For example, when I went to the website and it told me to choose a destination, I typed in "Las Vegas, NV," and got the reply, "Tripomatic has yet to cover Las Vegas, NV." But there on the home page was a list of popular destinations, and Las Vegas was included, with maps, a free guide, suggestions for what to do and tours to buy. Go figure.

Friday, July 13, 2012

New Safety Measures for Cruises

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC) adopted two new safety policies

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC) adopted two new safety policies. These policies, which address issues related to the recording of passenger nationality and the common elements of musters and emergency instructions, result from the Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review launched in January.
The Nationality of Passengers policy was developed in response to the request of governments at the May meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee meeting. This policy prescribes that the nationality of each passenger onboard is to be recorded and made readily available to search and rescue personnel as appropriate. Under the Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions policy, member cruise lines have specified 12 common elements that will be communicated to passengers in musters and emergency instructions. Among these common elements are a description of key safety systems and features as well as an explanation of emergency routing systems and emergency exit locations. Both policies exceed current international regulatory requirements.
“Our industry continues to actively identify a range of measures that will improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is the top priority of the cruise industry,” said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA.