Let’s face it – nobody goes to a museum to find a good meal. You’re bound to get either over-priced fast food or something more amibitious that’s been bungled, burned and left to dessicate under a heat lamp.
But then you have the Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The contents of the museum itself didn’t do much for me. But it’s an amazing building. And even better, if I lived in D.C., I’d make regular visits for lunch.
The cafe is broken into several themed sections. Each section represents a different region of indiginous people from the Americas, such as Northern Woodlands, South America, the Northwest Coast, Meso America and the Great Plains. In each section, you’ll find items using ingredients that people from that region would’ve used in their cooking. That yields some really unusual items such as a quinoa-type grain with blueberries, smoked eel, braised rabbit and nopales (a type of pad cactus). I managed to find some sort of dish using chilled beets and potatoes, and it was tasty enough for me to try making it at home. I’d love to see a complete list of the cafe’s menu somewhere so I can do a little research and duplication here in Arizona.
Now let’s say you’re not quite up for eel, or you have kids. They can take a small step over to the wild side with pupusas, a nice corn-based flatbread sort of thing that’s usually stuffed with meat or cheese. Or if that’s still too much, they can try a buffalo burger and yucca fries.
For dessert, you can check out items like the sage and pine nut tart.
Now, this isn’t exactly a cheap menu. Typically, and entree with two sides runs from $7.99 up to around $13.99. But it’s tasty and unusual. And let’s not forget – it’s part of the Smithsonian family of museums. That means admission is free, so this is a nice way to spend a little to keep the museums ticking beyond your tax dollars.
Score one for sister-in-law Rachel for the great idea.