In diner lingo, a “splash of red noise” is tomato soup, and “burn the British” is a toasted English muffin—just the tip of the iceberg of gastronomic information you’ll discover at the endlessly fascinating Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University. This carefully curated collection showcases the varied elements of cooking and cuisine across five centuries.
Examples of fine service pieces and cutlery include silver sandwich boxes, knife rests, and egg guillotines–all just one room away from still-life images of the humble early New England kitchen, the center of the home (where many families slept, too), its glowing hearth filled with hanging cast-iron pots. Another exhibit highlights the role of the celebrity chef in our lives, from the great Antonin Careme (who cooked for Napoleon and the Rothschilds) to New England’s own Julia Child. The beauty of food is celebrated, too, in an exhibit displaying wares such as intricate wedding cakes, colorful fruit-box logos, and delicately scribed menus from elegant steamship journeys and grand hotels.
Oh yeah, that red Wimpy? Just your basic burger with ketchup: like the diner, a New England invention (although Louis’ Lunch still doesn’t approve of condiments), and a great contribution to the history and culture this museum so painstakingly preserves.
Culinary Arts Museum, 315 Harborside Blvd., Providence, RI. 401-598-2805; culinary.org