Yeah, I know, I keep using the all-caps version of “Epcot.”
Old habits die hard, don’t they?
But EPCOT is one of the reasons I like Florida slightly better than California.
Food. Dangnabit, the food. With the wonderous World Showcase, Disney went in a direction that many had never really thought about. Many tourists see these theme parks as nothing more than highly decorated fairs. They arrive expecting the greasy fair that you’d find in the average roadshow carnival. Corndogs and popcorn do abound because of it, and, okay, I get that.
It’s comfort food, all the way on vacation time, right?
But EPCOT played different from the get-go. Each pavilion located on the World Showcase treats the visitor and guest to one sit down meal (at least) and one counter service-both specializing in foods and flavors from the host country. I’m sure the tastes have been Americanized, but it is a wonderful treat to sometimes find that special something that truly reminds you of that host nation.
Sushi in Japan is a borderline stereotype, but with it’s presence, you’re transported to the Land of the Rising Sun. And it’s wonderful to behold.
There’s the snacks.
Now some snacks are just plain excellent, but you’ve had them before, elsewhere, I’m sure. Pretzels in Germany? Okay. Cannollis are excellent and they’re readily available over in Italy. So, I’m offering you a different taste. This is born out of a conversation I had, recently, with a beautiful couple I encountered wandering in the France Pavilion. They saw me order something truly unique and, being from Hong Kong, wanted to know what other treats I would recommend. This was, after all, they’re first trip out of China and this was a great opportunity to sample nations they may not get to see. Several of the items listed here were mentioned to them as well.
And, please, this is far from a comprehensive list, feel free to chime in with your own specilities!
Future World? Okay, a bit of a issue. The Land is fantastic for food and probably one of the best places to find a meal, should you not have a rezzie over one of the World Showcase Pavilions. With that, I highly recommend heading over to the Sunshine Seasons restaurants at the bottom level. But it’s not really condusive to getting a quick snack. A grande promenade of self-service, kids and adults mill about making bottlenecks and you’ll be frustrated waiting to just get something small. That being said, they do have a terrific blondie bar, when it is being served. They tend to change the menu down there. That’s alright. Creativity is awesome when the food is good.
Also, there in Future World, if you must have popcorn (I do too, it’s alright!), try the new flavored popcorn over by the Imagination Pavilion. Massively popular in Japan (they have, like, three hundred gazillion flavors of popcorn at Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea-including shrimp), they have three flavors now and are gauging public’s popularity of the undertaking. Stop by and see what you think! Me? I love it.
Mexico? Surely, you’ve had nachos and tacos at home. I love the food, but when it comes to snacking? I head over to…
Norway: School bread. With all the dust-up and angst that’s been riddling this pavilion lately, you’d think there was nothing really worthwhile to even see here. Seriously, try this little tasty number if you get the chance. High in sugars for kids to much on their way to their snowy school destinations (that’s the story I heard!), these power super donut thingies are worth the shoe leather. A creamy filled bun covered in coconut. Give it a go!
China: Lucky combo. I love my coffee and my teas, I mean, please, I’m an author. But I was tended to avoid this little booth, due to the fact that they merely had the standard baked goods I can find elsewhere. SIDENOTE: Some of these items come from Clermont’s own Donut King, from my understanding, and are good, but not the snack you’d find in a country like China! Instead, give this tasty treat an option. It’s actually three morsels that are wonderful to share, and one of the few snacks I’ve picked on this list that’s served hot. There’s a pork bun, a chicken pocket, and an egg roll. Now, egg rolls? We can also get them anywhere. But my neighbor used to make the best pork buns and I would eat a dozen before I knew it.
Germany: Another “hot” item here on this list? Nudel Gratin. Yeah, you heard that right, if you say it out loud it does sound like ‘noodle.’ In this case, in the American parlance, you’d actually understand this to be mac and cheese. But in EPCOT? It’s a baked cheese custard, crispy on top, keeping in the heat and flavor. Great if you need that extra fat to keep the energy up on your trek!
Italy: Yeah, my love of coffee spilled into my love of ice cream with this one. Wait. Did I say ice cream? Sorry. Gelato. That smooth Italian concoction that has the blessings of simple flavors mixed a smooth soft milk texture. Here? Try out the espresso gelato affogato, er, okay, my Italian is a bit rough, but here they write it as fior di latte gelatto. It’s standard vanilla bean gellato, but then they pour hot espresso over it and a hit of chocolate, if so requested. Then coffee beans are sprinkled over that. It’ll make you sleepy and wake you up at the same time!
America: True story folks. I used to have funnel cakes long before they became a popular delight. Grandmom over in Pennsylvania used to make them for dessert on Sunday nights after a day at church was done. Stuff was awesome then and are still awesome now.
Japan: Most people go for the snowcones out front, and, yes, they’re awesome. Called karigori, if you get it with a sweet milk topping, it has a crisp-sweet flavor that’ll ring unique. But for me? For a guy who quit soda drinking a year ago? I head inside and treat myself to a ‘marble’ soda, aka “ramune!” These hard glass bottles are inside the department store, towards the back. The neck of the bottle separates the sweet water from the carbonation, until you purchase one and puncture the top. Yes, it does take some strength to break the seal, but when you do, the soda texture is ten times as crisp as fountain pop. Grab a few to take back to your hotel room.
Morocco: Morroco has changed the game a wee bit. See, they used to have a great little coffee counter to the back of their cafe, but there just wasn’t the foot traffic. Americans, as a whole, were just not familiar with the cuisine. So? The built a “tapas” style restaurant with water front viewing. I’d recommend it, surely, as all the restaurants are decent to excellent at the World Showcase. However, the price of this place makes it too difficult for me to recommend. Get your butt over to France or actually have a meal here in one of the best restaurants of all of the World Showcase.
France: France used to have their patisserie/boulangier in the small serving area off to the side of this locale, but decided the popularity was too high-so it moved to the back. The small counter service became an artisian ice cream place, and, like Italy, it was SO worth it. For example, right now, they have pumpkin flavor ice cream macarons. When I first heard of their select “ice cream sandwiches,” it sounded gross. Day old buns served with a scoop of your choice of ice cream and chocolate sauce or strawberry perserves mixed in and all heated in a waffle iron. I know, right? Then I tasted it, so warm, the ice cream melted into a burst of flavors. Yes, I’m ready to go to France now, should they serve this.
England: Yes, we have Cadbury bars in the USA, but, really, to be watching the fireworks and eating a mint Aero? That, in and of itself, is truly special.
Canada: Ketchup potato chips! My Canadian was shocked when he saw these tasty treats. No, it doesn’t taste like ketchup. But it does taste like heaven!
Refreshment Port: New York City, the foodies’ haven, gave us cronuts a year or two ago and EPCOT was not too far behind. A cronut is a cross between a donut and a croissant, sprinkled with brown sugar cinnamon and, if you wish, ice cream. Total calorie count!
And there you go, my foodies-in-training. Time to start munching. Food, in my humble belief system, is the great thing that brings cultures together. What a time to bond! Let me know what you think.