What an adventure I had on Saturday … I was educated, inspired and satiated, all in my own neighborhood.
I’d been mildly aware of the Museum of Lifestyle & Fashion History but my antennae went up recently when I heard they were conducting cultural-historical-food tours in Boynton Beach and Delray Beach … which is where I live. Their trademark tagline is “There’s history in every bite.” And we got our fill of each!
The museum is operated as a non-profit and, sadly, recently lost its space so the collections are in storage while the search is on for a new home. But, their less than a year old tours are thriving. The one I went on pretty much filled their nice vehicle.
Unfortunately, our day started out rainy (it’s a rain or shine tour), but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit and when it counted (time to walk or eat!), it let up. Praise be!
What I learned. (So much.)
The trip was narrated by Lori Durante (more about her later – she deserves a full paragraph) with a running historical dialogue of Florida in all its various incarnations from discovery to farmland to industrialization. We heard about the Creek and Seminole natives, the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon, and other original discovers of note like Hernando de Soto; the actual territory and its subsequent expansion; the early 1900′s settlers who were responsible for its growth and population; the booms, depressions, race relations; and more.
Linton, Boynton, Swinton, Flagler, etc. (the streets I cross frequently) came alive with the history of whom they were named after and what their specific contributions were to the area.
As we learned the history, we drove around and stopped at various buildings of historic and/or architectural note and toured historic neighborhoods. I was particularly impressed with our visit to the West Settlers District which was founded in the late 1800s by African and runaway American slaves.
We met Dee Dee, a wonderful hard-working woman who greeted us with her 2 children. She makes the best conch fritter I ever had which is served with a spicy remoulade-type sauce. We also got a bite of ribs.
On foot now, we made a few stops along Altantic Avenue (Delray’s ‘downtown’). We stopped for an authentic Neopolitan pizza making (and tasting) demonstration at Scuola Vecchia.
In Boynton Beach, we visited the Secret Garden Cafe which operates an urban garden and donates 12% of its sales to the Community Caring Center’s nutrition education programs for seniors, adults and kids in need. The Cafe also operates a sustainable food market and bakery on the premises. They gave us grass-fed beef sliders (along with a warning that USDA certified grass fed beef packaged and sold in supermarkets is only certifing that the cow ate grass for its last 180 days before slaughter).
I’d heard that Palermo’s was a good bakery although I’d never been there and I was impressed to learn from the owner that she doesn’t believe in sugar and uses honey; she’s also very conscious of offering authentic Sicilian pastries. And I heard her mention something about Bravo and a reality TV program in the works!
[The tour was reasonably priced at $35 for 4 full hours, including the food and a few discounts in our goodie bag. I must note that each food sponsor was very engaging with the group and gave generous portions. I was so full by the end of the tour, that all I could eat for dinner later was a salad ... and a glass of wine. ]
And about Lori J. Durante (photo lifted from her facebook page).
It turns out she was not only our guide, she is the curator and executive director of the museum. She is the voice, face and brains of it all and she is wildly impressive.
Even a casual visitor to FOODalogue knows I’ve traveled a lot and, therefore, been exposed to a myriad number of guides all over the world. Lori ranks right up there with the best of them. She is unbelievably (and unscripted) knowledgeable and her passion is palpable. I was enticed by her voice and narrative style which was strong, clear, and commanding … so important for a guide.
You may even know for a short period of time, I was the group leader for organized tour groups. As such, I know how difficult it is to keep a group under control and sticking to a schedule. Lori did an A+ job.
I would highly recommend the experience as ‘satisfying on all levels’. In fact, I hope to take the Lake Worth and Lantana tour one day.