Northwest Arkansans know John Burroughs as the director who steered the Rogers Historical Museum into its new space in the iconic Hailey Ford building on South Second Street. But since moving to the St. Louis area, Burroughs has taken on something bigger -- and much, much weirder. He's the co-founder of the World Myth Museum, intended to offer a "comprehensive exploration of myths and legends" such as Sasquatch, the German Kobold and the Japanese Kappa.
"We want to inspire people to understand how culture has defined legends and the process of myth-making and storytelling," Burroughs said in a May 30 story in this newspaper. "We want to inspire people to be curious, and we want to have conversations with our visitors about legends they may have experienced. And we want to inspire people to appreciate all of the stories that attempt to explain the world around us."
And, he adds, "the strength of our exhibits will be in the life-like sculptures" created by his partner, artist extraordinaire Kendall Hart, "that will bring our visitors face to face with legends."
"We're taking big steps forward at the World Myth Museum," Burroughs updates. "Thanks to the support of our initial investors, we've outgrown our Farmington, Mo., home office and are in the process of moving into a new studio space where we can focus on sculpting creatures and developing museum plans. Once we have the studio open and have completed the Arkansas Gowrow and Missouri Monster, we will add other creatures to our exhibits such as the chupacabra.
"In addition to our planning and development work, we're scheduling time for appearances in Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky," he adds, in addition to working with Northwest Arkansas to present traveling exhibits here in 2022.
"Part of this planning focuses on collaborating with local schools to offer classroom programming," he explains. "In addition to the cultural heritage and storytelling connected to the museum's mythology and cryptozoology content, there's a strong art and STEM education component tied to our use of technology to digitally sculpt and produce sculptures.
"It's going to be a busy year in 2022, and we look forward to connecting with the Northwest Arkansas community during this next phase of the museum."
When we asked our regional celebrities to submit their favorite "Local Flavors" -- defined as comfort food in an uncomfortable time -- Burroughs was much less elusive than Bigfoot but didn't omit the unusual. He had an immediate choice: Black bean and sausage chili with hominy.
"I don't have a name for it," he says. "I call it chili, some people call it weird, everyone that tries it calls it good. You know how it is, chili inspires debate. But as an old bachelor, I like having a pot of it on the stove when I come in from meetings or working up at the farm.
"The addition of hominy makes it different," he adds. "It gives it a great corn/masa flavor and an interesting texture. If people will try it, it's a good way to enjoy hominy. It seems people have generally lost their appreciation for it, [but] it's something I've always enjoyed."
Black Bean and Sausage Chili
1 can of black beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of yellow hominy
1 medium onion
1/2 pound of pork sausage
Chili powder to taste
Lightly brown sausage and drain. Add diced onion to sausage and continue cooking until the onions become translucent. Add black beans, tomatoes and hominy. (It's best to drain the hominy. The hominy liquid is too much. It's better drained since it blends in more instead of overpowering the chili.) Add chili powder to taste and bring to a boil for two minutes, reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or more.
"The good thing about this recipe is that it's easily scaled up," Burroughs says. "I've found that the black beans, sausage and hominy are the perfect combination for my taste. Adding other beans with the black beans like pintos and kidneys throws it off, and the unique hominy flavor gets lost. I think you get a deeper flavor when the onions are cooked with the sausage before adding the liquids. It's best when simmered long enough for it to thicken. Also, the pork sausage brings a lot of seasoning in addition to the chili powder, so there's no need to add other seasoning unless desired."
Send your suggestions for "celebrity cooks" to email@example.com.
World Myth Museum
Find out more about the World Myth Museum at https://mythmuseum.org/museum/.
Email John Burroughs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Kendall Hart at email@example.com.
Read our story from May 2021 here: www.nwaonline.com/news/2021/may/30/the-myth-ing-link/