In this uncertain time, one thing still remains true – the act of preparing and serving a meal, no matter how simple or complex, can bring great comfort and a sense of pleasure into our lives.
But let’s be real, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated and inspired in the kitchen, especially when we’re staying home all the time. What if you’ve already flipped through the pages of your cookbooks, and are tired of searching the web for your next great recipe idea?
Good news: We’ve put together a fresh batch of delicious and creative museum- and art-inspired dishes that will help change up your weeknight (or weekend) dinner menu. These recipes and articles will not only fill your home with wonderfully delectable smells but will bring a part of the museum home to you.
When it comes to museum-inspired recipes, why not start with the dishes that are cooked by professional chefs and served at your favorite institution? Chef Amy Tornquist at the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, cooks up one of the best barbeque pulled pork sandwhiches. While in San Francisco, Charles Phan, executive chef and owner of The Slanted Door and previous owner of California Academy of Sciences’ now closed Moss Room, shares his recipe for stir-fried baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. You can find a variety of other museum chef dishes here.
Many well-known artists are not only masters with the paintbrush but are connoisseurs in the kitchen. According to The French Life, Claude Monet would welcome guests for lavish lunches and sumptuous feasts made with the freshest ingredients from his garden. A true gourmand, Monet kept culinary journals filled with detailed recipes – sixty of which are gathered in The Monet Cookbook by Florence Genter (Prestel, 2016). If you’re not so inclined to purchase the book, you can find various step-by-step recipes online, including the rustic potato pie, and Peaches à la Bourdaloue.
Another artist who loved to innovate in the kitchen with healthy, colorful dishes, was Georgia O’Keeffe. Some of her favorite recipes have been compiled in the Dinner with Georgia O’Keeffe cookbook by Robyn Lea dug. One of the artist’s most colorful recipes – Brightest Borscht with Sour Cream & Fresh Dill – can be found in the Galerie article 9 Recipes from Famous Artists That You Can Make At Home.
Once a month, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History cooks up a fun, historical recipe in the museum’s demonstration kitchen. Alongside the museum’s resident food historian, Dr. Ashley Rose Young, a guest chef is welcomed into the kitchen as they prepare a meal while disusing the history and traditions behind its ingredients, culinary techniques, and enjoyment (Cooking Up History, Smithsonian). Although temporarily closed, the Smithsonian’s Cooking Up History still offers an endless variety of free, online recipes that you can make at home. Previous shows include:
- Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking
- Artisan Chocolate and the "Good Food Movement"
- The New Southern-Latino Table
- In the Kitchen with Julia and Paul Child
- The Great American Pumpkin
If you’re feeling truly adventurous, the British Museum invites you to recreate recipes from the ancient world to make your own classical feast!. Taken from The Classical Cookbook, by Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger, the Museum shares nine recipes from ancient Greece and Rome. Starters include olive relish from Cato and Athenian-style cabbage, while main courses cover Grecian honey glazed prawns and squash/marrow from Alexandria. And we can’t forget dessert! Try making your own Roman-inspired honey cheesecake, or Delian sweets made of flour, honey, and poppy seeds.
Have you ever wanted to cook like a 19th-century Victorian? Well, now you can! This October, join Fort Nisqually Living History Museum's Volunteer Cook, Quin, who will share her historical food research and tips on how to interpret Victorian recipes in a modern kitchen. Save your spot here. Or, learn how to make traditional cider! Claim your virtual seat for cider-making here.
Creative Museum Drinks
Of course, any meal wouldn’t be complete without a museum-esque cocktail in hand, now would it? While many are still closed due to the novel Coronavirus, museums have started hosting digital happy hours as a way to connect with their audiences at home. Some have even invented a cocktail of their own inspired by works in their collections. ARTnews shares three drink recipes in their recent article Museum Cocktails: Three Great Libations Inspired by Art to Make at Home Right Now.
Through the art of cooking, there are so many ways in which you can bring the artists and history found within a museum into your own kitchen. We hope these recipes will help to brighten up your dinner table and offer a sense of further inspiration.
Do you have a fun cooking program or museum-inspired recipe to share?
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Written by Jessica Noyes, WMA Communications Coordinator