“The mere smell of cooking can evoke a whole civilization.”
-—Fernand Braudel, French Historian

This fall, discover more about traditional Native American cooking tools, ancient Egyptians’ penchant for tilapia, and the merits of wine decantation, as the Penn Museum explores food, drink, culture and cuisine through the international galleries. Culinary Expeditions: A Fall Celebration of Food and Cultures runs September through December 2014.


Take a Culinary Expedition, visiting 10 food-related artifacts in the Museum galleries via a new self-guided tour, free with Museum admission donation and available at the admission desks. Pick up your guide at the front desk.

For a more in-depth focus on food and foodways, Museum docents offer special tours the first Saturdays of each month, 1:30 pm from the Museum’s Kamin main entrance:

The Penn Museum’s new Culinary Expeditions self-guided tour showcases ten food-related objects in the galleries, including a green faience tilapia-shaped rattle from ancient Egypt (object no. # E13005 Photo: Penn Museum).

Michele Belluomini, a storyteller who has performed at many Penn Museum events, presents “Exploring Foodways: Stories Behind the Artifacts” September 6 and December 6.

Elin Danien, Ph.D., consulting scholar in the American Section of the Penn Museum, an expert on the ancient Maya, and an avowed chocoholic, offers “Delicious—and Good for You!” tours October 4 and November 1.

Image caption: Egyptian Fish Rattle Museum Object Number: E13005


The Museum’s Pepper Mill Café joins in the celebration with Culinary Expeditions menus focused on diverse regions of the world, Fridays through Sundays, September 5 through December 21. The special menus are posted below. (Note: menu items are subject to change)

September menus for Culinary Expeditions: Africa, Asia, Egypt, and Greece

Africa, September 5–7:
Savory Poached Catfish
Parsleyed Jollof Rice
Plantain Chips
Braised Collard Greens

Asia, September 12–14:
Julian’s Red Curry Chicken
Gingered Tofu & Asparagus Stir Fry
Snow Pea & Shiitake Stir Fry

Egypt, September 19–21:
Herb Stuffed Tilapia
Lentil, Rice & Chickpea Casserole
Sesame Mangoes
Sweet & Sour Okra

Greece, September 26–28:
Eggplant & Lamb Casserole
Greek Salad
Braised Carrots with Olives
Honey, Walnut & Orange Cake

October menus for Culinary Expeditions: Mesoamerica, Middle East, Native America, Rome, & Africa

Mesoamerica, October 3–5:
Turkey in Mole Sauce
Guacamole with Jicama
Roasted Green Chilies with Cream
Drunken Beans

Middle East, October 10–12:
Braised Chicken with Grapes
Hummus, Baba Ghanouj & Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Saffron Rice Pilaf
Beet & Yogurt Salad

Native America, October 17–19:
Roasted Salmon, Nut Oil
Wild Rice Salad with Fruit & Nuts
Acorn Squash with Black Walnuts

Rome, October 24–26:
Grilled Steak, Tuscan Style
Crispy Fried Artichokes
Creamy Herbed Polenta
Sautéed Broccoli Rabe, Caper Berries

Africa, October 31–November 2:
Spicy Stewed Chicken Thighs
Cinnamon Yams
Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw
Tapioca Coconut Pudding

November menus for Culinary Expeditions: Asia, Egypt, Greece, and Mesoamerica

Asia, November 7–9:
Sweet & Sour Bass
Cucumber Cashew Salad
Marbled Tea Eggs

Egypt, November 14–16:
Herb Stuffed Tilapia
Lentil Spread, Pickled Pearl Onions & Crispy Flatbread
Sesame Mangoes
Fig & Walnut Pastry

Greece, November 21–23:
Grilled Branzini
Braised Carrots with Olives
Custard Filled Baklava

Mesoamerica, November 28–30:
Chicken, Tomatillo & Pepita Sauce
Guacamole with Jicama
Drunken Beans
Mexican Style Hot Chocolate

December menus for Culinary Expeditions: Middle East, Native America, and Rome

Middle East, December 5–7:
Lamb & Date Kabobs
Hummus, Baba Ghanouj & Whole Wheat Pita Bread
Beet & Yogurt Salad
Rice with Black Cherries

Native America, December 12–14:
Clam Fritters
Wild Rice Salad with Fruit & Nuts
Acorn Squash with Black Walnuts

Rome, December 19–21:
Vermicelli with Calamari & Shrimp
Fennel & Orange Salad
Pignoli Cookies

Culinary Expeditions: A Fall Celebration of Food and Cultures is inspired by Culinary Expeditions: A Celebration of Food and Culture Inspired by Penn Museum Treasures, a 133-page, full-color, hardcover book launched in the spring which features cultural and culinary stories, 80 tested recipes, and photography of food-related artifacts from the international collections of the Penn Museum.

Edited by Expedition Magazine Editor Jane Hickman, Ph.D., and published by the Museum’s all-volunteer Women’s Committee, the book can be ordered through the Women's Committee by calling 215.898.9202, or downloading an order form on the Women’s Committee website. All proceeds benefit the Museum.

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