New Orleans is famous for its food, so it makes sense that a museum devoted to food is here. The Southern Food and Beverage Museum showcases the food and crops of the South, not just Louisiana. The museum, SoFAB for short, is in the Central City neighborhood, which – like so much of the city – was devastated by Hurricane Katrina ten years ago this week.
Each of the 15 southern states has its own display, with vintage products from Moon Pies to hot sauces, including Louisana’s own Tabasco sauce, and descriptions of how local crops from corn to oysters, defined a local culture. You can follow the BBQ trail from the ancient Caribbean tribes which migrated north to the South, thumb through a wealth of vintage cookbooks, return to your grandmother’s kitchen in the displays of vintage stoves and cooking utensils and more.
One section is devoted to vintage liquor bottles, including absinthe, and there are sobering looks at the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on fishing and farming in the South.
One side of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum houses Bruning’s Bar, from the third oldest restaurant in town. The 40-foot long hand-carved wooden bar was found underwater after Katrina, and loving hands stripped and restored it. Unlike other museums, you can get a drink here and walk around the museum. It’s a food and drink museum, after all.
SoFAB also has recreated part of Antoine’s, the iconic NOLA restaurant celebrating its 175th anniversary in 2015. Antoine’s is equally famous for its ambiance, service and fine food. It’s also one of the few restaurants on the planet proud to share some of its most famous recipes online. Here’s the recipe for Crawfish Cardinal.
SoFAB is housed in a warehouse building that was part of New Orleans’ old indoor markets. There also are cooking classes, and the museum partners with a local group to teach at-risk teenagers skills for working in restaurants and tourism.
It’s one of the best food museums in the USA, and one of 14 I wrote about for AOL Travel.