Michigan Eats coming to the Dowagiac Art History Museum

Pictured is the mess hall at Beebe Farm near Glenwood with a spread of food for farm workers, circa the early 1900s. (Leader photo/DOWAGIAC AREA HISTORY MUSEUM)

Pictured is the mess hall at Beebe Farm near Glenwood with a spread of food for farm workers, circa the early 1900s. (Leader photo/DOWAGIAC AREA HISTORY MUSEUM)

DOWAGIAC, Mich. — We are what we eat and for Michiganders this means pasties, muskrat dinners, Coneys, fish fries, cherry pie and much more.

“Michigan Eats: Regional Culture Through Food,” an exhibit at the Dowagiac Area History Museum, will give visitors the opportunity to learn about Michigan food and foodways. The Michigan State University Museum exhibit opens at the museum with an open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 4 .

What makes a “Michigan food?” After all, there is nothing that all Michiganders eat and only they eat. Michigan foods are those of the many communities — ethnic, regional, local — that constitute the state.

Michigan Eats explores the state’s food and foodways by looking at food traditions in specific locales, with particular emphasis on ethnic history and its impact on different communities. The term “foodways” includes the entire complex of behaviors, attitudes and beliefs associated with food, from cultivation to consumption.

Michigan Eats uses interpretive panels that convey in words and images many of the diverse food traditions found around the state. The exhibit also includes historic and contemporary objects from the Michigan State University Museum and private collections that illustrate various aspects of Michigan foodways, including ethnic kitchen utensils, packaging from some of Michigan’s best known food producers and antique fishing equipment. Visitors can also listen to clips from food-themed songs and stories about Michigan food on the exhibit’s interactive listening station.

The Dowagiac Area History Museum will add local food history and stories to the exhibit.

“Many of the themes in Michigan Eats tie in perfectly with our local food history. From paczki to mint farming, these are local traditions that the curators of the exhibit also addressed,” said museum director Steve Arseneau.

The museum’s exhibit will include many historic artifacts from the local agriculture industry, the fruit belt and some area restaurants.

Arseneau is working with Caruso’s to include some of the nearly century-old business’ older candy-making equipment.

“What would a Dowagiac exhibit on food be without including Caruso’s, which has served generations of Dowagiac residents?” Arseneau said.

Michigan Eats: Regional Culture Through Food opens Feb. 4 and runs through April 30. The open house is from 5-7 p.m. on Feb. 4 and will include refreshments, including paczki and pasties. Admission is free. The museum is located at the corner of Division and West Railroad Streets. For more information, contact the museum at (269) 783-2560 or visit www.dowagiacmuseum.info.

 

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