I visited the International Vinegar Museum for the first time 20 years ago. My dad was always looking for something interesting-and much better if there were strange elements. When he came across a museum on a small main street in Roslyn, South Dakota, he started drinking a small glass of vinegar every night. As part of his tour there, he learned that certain vinegars are as valuable as fine wines and some are considered remedies. He provided shots to embarrassed guests, frowned reticent peasants, and managed the “no” cuts accordingly.
After he died, I found more vinegar packed in the cabinet, and I wondered: is it really great? This summer, I visited the museum twice in search of the magic of vinegar. The scene was what I remembered. People stopped by on their way in and out of somewhere, curious and didn’t know what to find.
“Dad, you can apply balsamic vinegar to the ice cream,” Carissa Davis tells her father Jeff Stein. Davis learns that museum staff love the ice cream balsamic vinegar.
“Really?” Stein said suspiciously. Local Fran Rougemont, who works as a guide at the museum today, tells his family that she also loves cooking with vinegar with pies and fish.
Davis, Stein and Stein’s wife, Shirley, express their surprise, as most people do. The family stopped by the Vinegar Museum on their way home from their wedding. This is said to be the only vinegar museum in the world. Today’s Tour Highlights: Free Vinegar Tasting.
The museum is located in the former auditorium of the town. The brick structure with hardwood floors was built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. It boasts many flavors of vinegar (pecan nuts, maple, etc.) along with an exhibition on the history of sour substances. Approximately 300 bottles, including a small bottle of balsamic vinegar that has been aged for 25 years and sold elsewhere for over $ 100, are on display from around the world.
Placards provide information about little-known vinegar. It has been used as a fight against head lice and as a herbicide. Babylonians made vinegar over 5,000 years ago. The museum’s founder, Lawrence Diggs, exhibits a piece of pottery made using his own infusion of vinegar-the museum is mentioned in a 2005 New York Times article. In the small gift corner, visitors can buy their own bottles and find T-shirts that say “pickled at the International Vinegar Museum”.
Roslyn is a town of less than 200 people in northeastern South Dakota, surrounded by corn and soybean fields and rolling grassland hills dotted with small glacial lakes. Before the museum opened in 1999, the town’s greatest fame was that it was the birthplace of Myron Floren, the accordionist of the Lawrence Welk Show. Hours from major metropolitan areas, not major highways. Nonetheless, museum people tell me that it attracts about a thousand visitors each year. The pin covers the world map on the wall and shows where the visitor came from.
The most common question people have about vinegar is, as Diggs tells me: What is vinegar? And what is it made of? Simply put, vinegar comes from everything that contains alcohol. Bacteria turn alcohol into acetic acid. The alcohol can be made with anything that contains starch or sugar, including unexpected sources such as honey, potatoes and beets. You can also make vinegar from the pulp of cocoa. “Some people make milk vinegar and swear,” says Diggs. “not me.”
Diggs, now 73, was fascinated by vinegar while taking a food science class at San Francisco State University in the 1980s. The study led him to publish a book on the subject at his own expense. He came to Roslyn in 1989 and looked for a quiet summer place to write. Prior to that, he spent most of his life in San Francisco. He worked for the Peace Corps in Africa and was a radio reporter and bus driver. He is currently an Artist in Residence at the South Dakota Arts Council, working with a man in prison. He also consults with clients around the world about vinegar.
He says the museum was the town’s Hail Mary Pass looking for something to attract people to the area. In the late 1990s, some residents formed a committee called Roslyn and Eden (Eden is a small town nearby) or CARE Community Promotion. Eventually, they realized that they needed to do something with their resources. And I did something completely different from what other towns do. Diggs was that resource: he had both knowledge from his consulting business and dozens of bottles of vinegar. Voilà: Vinegar Museum.
Diggs tells me that he has agreed to help start the place, but he wanted it to be focused on the community: “That wouldn’t be me.” Twenty-two years later, the museum is managed by CARE and staffed by people who have undergone hands-on training on vinegar. And that is the biggest attraction of the town. Roslyn hosts an annual vinegar festival and is full of “royal quotes” including the Queen of Vinegar. The museum is open Thursday-Saturday and only during the summer, but Rougemont says someone is generally available if you ask for a tour. She talked about riding a bike to receive mail from the post office and asked if a large RV family could take the tour. “I told them I just had to go home and hold the key,” she says.
At the museum, by the time Rougemont asks if the Stein family is interested in tasting, Carissa Davis and her mom, Shirley, are games. I’m not sure about Jeffstein. “Come on, dad,” says Davis. “Don’t be chicken” Stein heads to the tasting table where Rougemont is waiting with a few bottles of vinegar. A small glass contains samples of wild blueberries, black figs, maple, tequila lime, spice pecans, and two balsamic vinegars.
Rougemont describes a process that is very similar to wine tasting. Look at the vinegar and swirl to release “volatiles”. Then use a long wooden swab to catch the liquid placed on the tongue and palate. “Wow, I’m surprised,” says Jeff after trying a little pecan vinegar. “You can really taste pecan. I was expecting a sour sour taste, and not. I was expecting something completely different.”
Why this little South Dakota town started the International Vinegar Museum | Lifestyle
Source link Why this little South Dakota town started the International Vinegar Museum | Lifestyle