As a flavorist, vacation is always a wonderful time to try new foods, and to experience different cultures through the flavors. This December, I was able to visit Epcot at Walt Disney World; each year, they have the International Festival of the Holidays, where they offer traditional holiday drinks and dishes from around the world. This is one of my favorite vacations to take, as I love trying all of the different foods and wines.
One of my favorite booths this year was the American Holiday table, where I was able to enjoy classic dishes, including turkey, ham, and a chocolate tart. The reason it was one of my favorite booths, however, was because of the memories I had while eating these foods. Growing up, the holidays were always celebrated at my parents’ house, and I would wake up every morning with the smell of turkey and ham already being prepared. One of the best moments of the day was getting to cook with my father, and learning how to make our family’s delicious ham glaze.
What really impressed me were the different green notes of the booth’s ham glaze, such as cis-3-hexenol and trans-2-hexenal, which reminded me of a granny smith apple, and instantly took me back to this joyful time in my life. I find it interesting that tastes are often associated with memory, and have the ability to recall these important moments in our lives. It has been found that the areas of the brain responsible for memory and taste have been linked, which is why we often remember the time and place where we ate that food (University of Haifa).
Another enjoyable booth was the Bavarian Holiday Table, where I sampled potato dumplings, sauerbraten, and black forest roulade served with cherry whipped cream. While there, I learned that a roulade can be either sweet or savory, but is a dish that is rolled, derived from the French word rouler, meaning “to roll”. The pairing of cherry with the chocolate cake was very tasty and interesting. Each variety of chocolate pairs well with different fruits, and is likely due to their compliments to the acidity of the different flavors. For example, the sweetness of white chocolate pairs best with fruits with higher acidity, including citrus and berries, as they create a fine balance. This is likely why the roulade was so delicious; the pairing of the dark chocolate, which is more bitter, balanced the cherry well, as it helps to neutralize that sweetness. (Hillard)
Overall, Epcot’s International Festival of the Holidays did not disappoint. I had a delightful time sampling different flavors, and appreciating how they worked together to be so delicious. I will hopefully be returning next year, to be able to sample all of the new and exciting dishes they offer.
- Hillard, Jillian. “Chocolate and Fruit Pairings.” PreGel Magazine. PreGel. 16 December 2016. Webs. 15 January 2019.
- University of Haifa. “Food Memory: Discovery shows how we remember taste experiences.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2014. sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140922110149.htm