When preparing for a visit to the enchanting Food Shark Museum of Electronic Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour it’s best to begin by checking traditional notions of both “museums” and “parlours” at the door.
The reason for making a pilgrimage to the Food Shark Museum of Electronic Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour is simple: it is a refuge from reality. Its close quarters are lined with outdated electronics that seemed like wizardry at the time of their debut.
A handful of 1950s television sets that held children rapt when Dorothy’s shoes pulsated red in Technicolor sit alongside an eight track stereo system that was once the most devastating delivery method for Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian.” Lights in primary colors beam through the windows’ slatted shades, illuminating the desert night. Meanwhile, less kitsch-drenched monitors are synchronized to play flickering abstract art films through the dim light as each weekend the museum becomes a mini-restaurant offering grilled cheeses dreamed up by a local food cart operator.
Served through a window in the wall, the latter’s offerings of comfort food with an oddly gourmet twist brought a food critic from Dallas to tears. The sandwiches appear on trays lined with astroturf and the paired down plastic chairs for seating seem only fitting. In short, the creators of the Food Shark Museum of Electronic Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour made sure that everything inside would compensate for all that’s lacking outside, even if it doesn’t make one-to-one sense.
Which is really the whole point of the Food Shark Museum of Electric Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour and, more broadly, Marfa: it’s a fanciful, hyper-real dream of a world predating that experienced by most visitors to the town, existing only in the nostalgia of imagination. It briefly drags a person in from the West Texas doldrums, only to send travelers back out into that landscape with an electrified mind, refueled body, and maybe a renewed appreciation for the vast, blank canvas extending in all directions.