11 of the world’s top food museums

CNN  — 

For hardcore foodies who love nothing more than sampling delicacies when visiting foreign lands, a visit to a food museum is a fine way to gain appreciation of local cuisine.

These are some the world’s best food museums to check out.

Colman’s Mustard Shop and Museum (Norwich, UK)

Colman’s Mustard first edged into fame in 1901, when explorer Robert Scott set sail for the South Pole with one ton of the stuff – the event was the first example of celebrity-endorsed advertising.

But the Colman’s Mustard Shop didn’t open until 1973, with the adjoining museum offering insight into the brand and its history.

For example, few know that the founders were pioneers when it came to employee social welfare.

Colman’s was the first company in the UK to employ an industrial nurse.

Highlight: The incredibly well stocked gift shop, though you run the risk of never wanting to see a Colman’s Mustard product ever again by the end of the visit.

Colman’s Mustard Shop & Museum, 15 Royal Arcade, Norwich; +44 1603 627 889

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum (Yokohama, Japan)

The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum is for those who can’t get enough of Japan’s classic noodle dish.

On the first floor there’s an exhibition about the history of ramen that includes displays of traditional bowls alongside the more recent invention every college student is all too familiar with – instant ramen.

The two basement floors are a replica of Shitamachi (Tokyo’s old town) and house nine restaurants, each of which serves up different regional varieties of ramen.

Highlight: A replica of the first ramen dish ever eaten. The consumer was a 17th-century samurai named Mito Komon.

Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum, 2-14-21 Shinyokohama, Kouhoku-ku, Yokohama; +81 45 471 0503

MORE: Japan’s ever changing ramen scene

Frietmuseum (Bruges, Belgium)

It's recommended you come on an empty stomach.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Frietmuseum is the world’s only museum dedicated to French fries, which, despite the name, Belgians claims to have created.

It appears the owners, Cedric and Eddy Van Belle, have a penchant for weird museums, because they also founded Belgium’s Domestic Lighting Museum.

This attraction, however, is altogether more interesting, with exhibitions exploring the history of the world’s most popular food, with lots of opportunities to try some yourself.

Highlight: The ground floor exhibition about potatoes, which were first discovered in Peru 10,000 years ago.

Frietmuseum, Vlamingstraat 33, Bruges; +32 50 34 01 50

Udon Museum (Kyoto, Japan)

Another popular Japanese dish is the focus at this Kyoto museum, which allows visitors to find out more about the different varieties of Japanese wheat flour noodles.

“There wasn’t an udon restaurant where I could taste all the regional varieties, so I opened one,” explains founder Tomoaki Takaya.

“There are 35 types of udon noodle, all of which can be seen in the museum. Each region in Japan has its own udon and way of eating it.”

Highlight: The amazing wall-mounted display of steaming, udon-filled bowls.

Udon Museum, 238-2 Giommachi Kitagawa, Kyoto; +81 75 531 0888

Dutch Cheese Museum (Alkmaar, Netherlands)

Gouda, Edam, Leerdammer, Leyden, Maaslander, Maasdam.

Keen travelers might recognize these names as cities in the Netherlands, but they’re also types of cheese, and the aim of this museum is to educate people about them.

Fittingly, it’s located on the upper floors of the Alkmaar cheese-weighing warehouse.

Visitors can check out collections of cheese-related tools and kids will love the interactive displays.

If you’re in town between April and September, a visit to the town’s cheese market is advised – it’s the largest in the Netherlands and takes place every Friday.

Highlight: The 15-minute film shown to all visitors. You’ll never look at a cheese wheel in the same way again.

Dutch Cheese Museum, Waagplein 2, Alkmaar; +31 72 515 5516

York’s Chocolate Story (York, England)

This chocolate-themed museum takes a calorific look at how the chocolate industry shaped this beautiful northern English city.

“While other British cities were built on steel, coal or wool, York’s fame and fortune has rested on chocolate for almost 300 years, thanks to the chocolate expertise of three entrepreneurial families: Rowntree, Terry and Craven,” explains museum manager Nikki Jacobs.

“Though much has changed over the centuries, York remains the UK’s home of chocolate.”

Highlight: The Factory Zone, where you can watch York’s master chocolatiers in action before that all-important taste test.

York’s Chocolate Story, King’s Square, York; +44 (0) 845 498 9411

Kimchi Museum (Seoul)

It’s the only food museum in South Korea and more than 100,000 people have visited since it opened 20 years ago.

The museum – like the nation – takes its kimchi seriously.

There’s even a library filled with reference books and academic papers about the pickled product.

Highlight: Those staying a little longer can sign up for one of the museum’s courses, which covers everything from the preparation of kimchi to its importance to Koreans.

Kimchi Museum, 159 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul; +82 02 6002 6456

Currywurst Museum (Berlin)

If the bottle-shaped phones don't thrill you, the currywurst mascot surely will.

For fans of processed meat, the news that America’s Spam museum has temporarily closed will come as a blow.

The good news? Berlin’s Currywurst (curried sausage) Museum is just as interesting.

A fragrant spice chamber allows visitors to sniff out their favorite variety, while an interactive game offers fans the chance to prepare their own version of the dish.

“No other fast food has ever been such an inspiration for songwriters, authors, comedians and artists,” says the museum’s Bianca Wohlfromm.

“It’s an expression of our social and cultural identity – about 800 million portions of currywurst are consumed per year in Germany, with 70 million currywursts eaten in Berlin alone.”

Highlight: The ketchup bottle-shaped telephone, which visitors can use to listen to songs about currywurst.

Currywurst Museum, Schützenstraße 70, Berlin; +49 30 8871 8647

Southern Food and Beverage Museum (New Orleans)

This museum aims to shine a light on the cultures and traditions behind U.S. Southern cuisine, and visitors can certainly expect a warm, Deep South welcome.

“Unlike many museums, we allow people to eat and drink while touring the museum – they can grab some shrimp and grits from our restaurant, Purloo,” says museum director Liz Williams.

“We have some unique exhibits and artifacts. For example, the Katrina Deli is a modified shopping cart that was pushed around New Orleans during the first Mardi Gras after Hurricane Katrina.”

Highlight: The Museum of the American Cocktail, a new addition to the facility.

Southern Food and Beverage Museum, 1504 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., New Orleans, Louisiana; +1 504 569 0405

Canadian Potato Museum (Prince Edward Island, Canada)

Though this Canadian island is most famous for its fictional redheaded orphan, Anne of Green Gables, its tasty potatoes are reason to visit alone.

The founders of the Canadian Potato Museum describe this glorious tribute to the island’s humble tuber as a celebration of “all things potato.”

Highlights include the world’s largest exhibition of potato-related farm machinery and the world’s largest potato sculpture.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you can stop by the Tater Kitchen and enjoy a range of potato-based treats – or simply a slice of cake.

Highlight: The super-sized potato sculpture outside the museum.

Canadian Potato Museum, 1 Dewar Lane, O’Leary, Prince Edward Island; +1 902 859 2039

Museum of Olive Oil Production (Lesvos, Greece)

This museum focuses specifically on how Greece’s olive oil industry was transformed by the introduction of machinery, a far more interesting subject than you might think.

The museum, housed inside a beautiful stone building, allows visitors to learn about everything from the mass cultivation of olive trees to the machinery used to crush olive pulp and separate the oil from water.

Highlight: The exhibition that explains the science behind the acidity test, which checks the quality of olive oil.

You’ll be an expert in no time.

Museum of Olive Oil Production, Agia Paraskevi 811 02, Lesvos, Greece; +30 2253 032 300

Tamara Hinson is a UK-based freelance journalist who has written for publications and websites including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Independent, the Observer, the Express, BA High Life, Sainsbury’s magazine and CNN.