I am skeptical and always have been. When it comes to food, my skepticism is at its peak. Some call it a snob, others discerning. Whatever it is, it’s all about skepticism. During a recent trip to Disney World, my skepticism was at an all-time high.
Like many Floridians, when I was a kid, I visited the Magic Kingdom dozens of times with my siblings, jumped around in Dumbo, spun in teacups at Mad Tea Parties, and shook wood in Pirates of the Caribbean. I was. We ate Mickey Waffles, Doll Whips, and Chicken Nuggets, but didn’t go to other parks to see the scenery or have snacks.
Meanwhile, my grown-up friends in the Orlando area regularly visit Epcot, attend the International Food & Wine Festival, and post treats on social media for the world to see. But I’ve never felt the urge to visit Epcot myself. That was until last weekend when my brother-in-law came to visit.
After weeks of meticulous planning, I ended up with “rope drops” (competing for rides in the notoriously long lines at open parks to avoid waiting all day) and “lightning lanes” (putting you at the top). I learned phrases like (paid perks to bring you to the front line) long queues). But I never quite figured out how to eat my way around the world. It worked better than it had.
How good can theme park food be? Better than it should be, after all.
Longtime Epcot visitors, please forgive me. Newcomers, this is the deal. Epcot is set up like a journey around the world. The 11 countries are represented by small villages modeled after each country with plenty of food and shopping. Canada, England, France, Morocco, Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, and Mexico each have their own parks, where visitors can order local delicacies from cafes, kiosks, and sit-down restaurants.
I abstained from this go-around because I wasn’t a heavy drinker all day. The idea of hopping on an alcohol-filled ride or stumbling for 10 hours drunk in the Florida sun didn’t appeal to me, so I stuck to what I did best: eat. Here are the best things I ate at Epcot.
The poutine we found at the kiosk in the Canada Pavilion was no accident. The fries were crisp (well, first) and topped with cheese curds and gravy. My only complaint is more cheese curds please. There is no such thing as too much.
Also found in a kiosk near Canada. I never thought I would scoop the marrow out of her bones while wearing Minnie’s ears. The top is caramelized to perfection and the inside spreads across the buttery toast-meat flavored butter.
We were starving after roping down Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, a ride with an enhanced sense of smell, at the French pavilion. I wondered if La Crêperie de Paris’ stately line was worth it. But after seeing how fast it was moving, we popped in for a hazelnut crepe and bechamel, ham and cheese galette (a delicious crepe).
Came across this kiosk when leaving France for Morocco. A black and white striped croissant stuffed with truffle paste made our taste buds soar.
In Morocco, stop at Tangerine Cafe for lamb kebabs and carrot slaw. Deep, earthy spices cheered up the rich lamb, and despite our quickly filling bellies, we kept munching on.
As a food writer, what is your favorite dish? I am often asked. My answers are usually shy and something like, “My favorite food is the food I’m eating right now.” Well I’m lying My favorite food is Japanese food.I stopped by the Japan pavilion kiosk for sushi donuts and cutlets. I was not disappointed with the sando (tonkatsu sando). The sandwiches were great. Soft rainbow bread envelops crispy pork in a sweet and savory barbecue-style sauce. perfect.
I had no interest in stopping at the US Pavilion. I couldn’t imagine being able to offer something there that I hadn’t tasted before. However, my companion insisted, so as a result, I ended up tasting a mouthful of chocolate: one white, one milk, and one dark. It was not a typical Swiss mistake. Instead, it was barely thinned out melted chocolate in a tiny little cup.
It wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies as we tasted from country to country.There are a few things I wish I hadn’t sacrificed calories for.
Everyone said to try the Japanese shaved ice. I expected the texture of snow lightly sweetened with an unexpected flavor choice. Instead, it was just shaved ice, heavy on syrup and light on adventure.
My husband is from a part of the country where the Norwegian flatbread Lefse is revered. Every little one smears leftovers with butter, sugar and cinnamon before a quick buzz in the microwave. But at Epcot, they forgot butter and buzz.
I don’t know what I expected, but I was hungry. Noodles piled high in the China Pavilion sounded like the right move, but I realized my mistake when greasy linguine disguised as lo-men arrived.
After walking 30 miles in two days, I’m happy to be home, but excited to plan my next trip to try out everything I’ve missed.