The exhibits at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, on the river in downtown New Orleans, were interesting, though sparse. Noticeably lacking was information on the high art of Southern Cakes, although this replica- and the corresponding description- of a Maryland “Smith Island Cake” was informative if somewhat… um… creepy.

As was this repica of a King Cake:

I did like the replicas of the Italian Saint Joseph’s Day Altar and the Dias De Los Muertos Altar, although seeing those lush ritual altars on display in a museum, devoid of the people and celebration that lend them meaning, made the experience somewhat one-dimensional to me.

The big winner with me, however, was the museum-within-a-museum called the Museum of the American Cocktail.

Learning the history of drinking in America seemed to me time well spent, and all those classy vintage drink menus and photos of swanky prohibition speakeasies made me happy.

There was also a beautiful-tragic photography show called “Spoiled” – a collection of Tom Varisco’s photos of the messages that Katrina survivors spray painted onto the refrigerators full of spoiled food that were left out on sidewalks after the storm.

Also impressive was their vast collection of Southern food cookbooks- and a file cabinet full of thousands upon thousands of index-card-sized, handwritten recipes.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum is relatively new, and I bet that in the near future they will expand and flesh out some of the very worthwhile exhibits- and, who knows, maybe I can help create a Cake Ladies exhibit one day.