When You Wish Upon a Star

Have I mentioned that I love my job? I had a shoot in Central Florida this week, and I flew in early the day before the shoot so I could check out Disney World. I haven’t been since I was a teenager, and I had such a good time. I was alone this time, which was a little weird, but I had a fun afternoon at Epcot. Apparently there are learning-centric buildings/exhibits/rides, and then there’s a World Showcase. That was the best part for me – good international food!

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“France” was great! I was walking through one of the stores, and a worker passed me and greeted me with “Bonjour,” and without thinking, I responded, “Bonjour,” complete with French accent! For a second, it was like I was browsing a shop in Paris again. I didn’t know this, but apparently most of the people who work in the different countries are actually FROM those countries. They had herbs de Provence, products from Avignon, soaps made from French lavender, and cookbooks from real French chefs. It was all real – there were English, Disney-commissioned labels with nutritional info and ingredients slapped on everything (which I actually thought was a great idea), but the products were genuine. I’ve always thought of Disney as taking real experiences and Disney-fying them, scrubbing them clean and repackaging them as their own, but I was totally impressed with the authenticity of the World Showcase. Yes, each country was basically just a cluster of money-making opportunities, which was annoying, but the wares were authentic, at least.

The food was surprisingly authentic, too. In Morocco, I had lamb, hummus, tabouleh, and couscous rivaling any I’ve had in restaurants. And in Japan, I had Japanese curry with rice. It was interesting – a mix between beef stew with carrots and potatoes and a curry sauce. Very good.

In Italy, I bought some of those little hazelnut chcocolates in the silver-and-blue wrapper that I found in Venice. I bought some Twinings cold-brew Earl Grey tea in England. And most impressively, I bought a jar of harissa in Morocco. That was the ingredient that Jeffrey cooked with in his demo of “The Ingredient Smuggler” on The Next Food Network Star! I bought it from a boy who couldn’t have been more than 23 and had just moved to the U.S. a month ago. I only bought one little thing, but it took 5 minutes because he was still learning how to work the machine, and he asked me a million questions. He told me how he uses harissa (in cooked lentils), told me about his trying to learn how to cook (and his recent cooking oil fire), asked me if I was a teacher (because I have the demeanor of a teacher, he said), and took a piece of paper from the cash register and wrote my first name in Arabic for me to take home. He was very sweet and eager, and it was the absolute last place I expected to have such an honest international encounter. Overall, I had a really nice afternoon. It was nice to get out of town and do something fun!

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2 Responses

  1. how did you not go to epcot the first time? it was my favorite part by far! of course, at the time, i had no idea what was authentic or not, but it was just a lot of fun! and the dome looks SO cool at night!

    when are you coming home?

    • I did – I just didn’t remember much. I was 13 last time. Walking around, I saw things that jogged some visual memories, but nothing concrete.

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