March 12, 2014

Food Museum

Sometimes, it is tempting to say that people here love food. But really it is gastronomy they love. The difference between the two is important to understand. The former is something we all eat; there is very little remarkable about food. Gastronomy, on the other hand, carries hints of good living, an appreciation of quality, a sensibility to subtlety, and an ability to discern. Most of all, it is a word that conveys one’s ability to enjoy the pleasures of the table.

Medals for beef lovers
The town of Saulieu is an undisputed champion of gastronomy. So it is only natural that the town’s museum, dedicated to the sculptor François Pompon, contains an entire room focused on gastronomy.

Even a bad iPhone photo can show that Saulieu is serious about food
The star of the show, as is the case throughout the town, is Bernard Loiseau, a 3-starred Michelin chef who brought the town and region much renown from the 1980s-2000s. When he killed himself with a shotgun in 2003, a great part of French culinary expertise died with him. There was an enormous amount of speculation about what drove him to suicide (debt, clinical depression, and, most of all, the thought that he might lose a Michelin star). It is, by all accounts, a grave tragedy in the history of French food.

But that story is for another time. At the museum, you can see Chef Loiseau smiling on the cover of cookbooks, grinning as he accepts various awards, and exuding a gentle and kind warmth as he cradles a knife.

The room is most remarkable for its old school menus, where chefs before Loiseau, like Alexandre Dumaine, "the cook for kings and the king of cooks," had already made Saulieu and Burgundy a dining destination.

Rotarians don't eat like this in Kalamazoo
For the modest entry price, the gastronomy room is worth a trip in itself. Throw in some amazing animal sculptures from M. Pompon, and this museum is a quick, easy, fun visit when passing through or staying in Saulieu.

Where: Saulieu, Côte d’Or, Burgundy
When: Open from March-December. Call ahead to double-check as hours vary.

How Much: Entry is 3 euros

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