Quinoa and kale may now come with a side of fermented shark.
The Disgusting Food Museum, which made headlines when it opened in Malmo, Sweden, in November 2018, is traveling somewhere warm for the winter — specfically, to Los Angeles.
Alongside the Sweden branch, the museum will open a three-month pop-up in downtown L.A.’s Architecture and Design Museum. It will be open Wednesday through Sunday every day from December 9 until February 17.
Tickets are $15 per person on weekdays and $18 apiece on weekends, which seems like a lot to spend for the privilege of being icked out.
However, when it comes to food, one person’s “yuck” is another person’s “yum.”
That was one of the major ideas behind the new Disgusting Food Museum.
The museum’s founder, Dr. Samuel West, is a psychologist by day and a museum curator by night. His first project, the Museum of Failure, defied its name and proved to be a big hit.
But it was an article about meat consumption and its effect on the environment that inspired West to learn more about alternative sources of protein, and then to turn his newfound interest into a project.
“If you ask people if they want to eat bugs, they say ‘that’s gross,'” Hunt says. “That’s the obstacle. But maybe I can make them reconsider.”
The end result? A 400-square-meter olfactory experience, where visitors can smell, touch and taste different foods that have been considered “disgusting” around the world, from foie gras to fermented shark.
“What we find disgusting has to be learned — it’s purely cultural,” says West.
To prove the point, American favorites such as root beer and Jell-O salad sit in the museum alongside fried tarantula and cooked guinea pigs. “If you give root beer to a Swede they will spit it out and say it tastes like toothpaste, but I think it’s delicious,” he notes.
“We strongly identify culturally with the food we eat,” Hunt explains. “Part of travel is trying new food, and there’s a greater interest in trying new things.”
While many food-related “museums” of late have mostly just been opportunities for novel selfies, West is adamant that the Disgusting Food Museum is there to help people learn and think critically, not just to pose for photos.
The downside? “One of my worries that it will start stinking in here,” West says.
Still, West and his colleagues have a good sense of humor about their wacky museum. A note about the L.A. pop-up reads “There are plenty of (not disgusting) restaurants, cafes, and even a brewery in the area.”
But, in the meantime, he hopes to open some minds — one bite of durian or bull penis at a time.