Friday, October 12, 2012

On the Road - Salvador - Pt. 6 - Museum of Bahian Gastronomy

The Museum of Bahian Gastonomy, Largo do Pelourinho, Salvador
Located in a beautiful historic house on the most famous square in Salvador, the epicenter of Bahian culture Largo do Pelourinho, the Museum of Bahian Gastronomy (Museu da Gastronomia Baiana in Portuguese) testifies to the importance of food and cooking to Bahia's cultural identity. Opened in 2006, the museum was the very first gastronomic museum in Latin America and one of the first in the world.

Managed and operated by SENAC, a Brazilian vocational institute with branches in all major cities in Brazil, the museum is conveniently situated next door to SENAC's Faculty of Gastronomy with its famous Bahian training restaurant.

dendê display
Although the museum is small, the exibits are very well displayed with all notations and graphic material in both Portuguese and English. Display cases showcase antique cooking utensils and equipment as well as porcelain and silverware for table service. Ingredients which are essential parts of the Bahian pantry - things like grated coconut and dendê palm oil are displayed and technique for extracting and using them are demonstrated.

One door down, in the neighboring structure, the museum operates a small bookstore with an excellent supply of books on Bahian and other Brazilian cuisines, including an almost complete selection of SENAC's own cookbooks. Although most of the books are in Portuguese, those published by SENAC have English translations of their texts and recipes at the back of the book, something which is of great benefit to foreign travelers. The bookstore also has a small espresso bar.

The house on the other side of the museum, on the uphill side of the sloping Largo do Pelourinho, contains the SENAC cooking school and restaurant. Next post in our On the Road - Salvador series will feature both.