This is a special time of year for many EPCOT fans, who enjoy the park's Food & Wine Festival, which offers expanded selections of world cuisines. For those who can get to EPCOT, it's a great experience. For those of us who can't, we've got to make do with what EPCOT offers the rest of the year.
Sometimes, it's wonderful. There are some truly tempting choices, ranging from a great steakhouse at Le Cellier to surprisingly good Middle Eastern fare in Morocco. In recent years, though, EPCOT's culinary selections have become decidedly less adventurous and more middlebrow, perhaps in recognition of the fact that many guests don't like to be "challenged" at mealtime.
Still, the Japanese offerings are distinctly Japanese. The French restuarants are inarguably French. Mexico offers Mexican food.
America offers hot dogs and hamburgers.
The United States has a remarkably diverse population with remarkably diverse regional cuisine, and it wouldn't take too much for EPCOT to acknowledge this and offer a broad selection that reflects the food and flavors that make America so unusually rich in mealtime fare.
The current menu at Liberty Inn, a counter-service restaurant, offers bacon cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. There's no doubt that these are genuinely "American" offerings -- but is this really a reflection of American tastes?
Travel north from Walt Disney World and into America's Deep South and you'll find gumbo, etouffee and muffalettas.
Journey even farther north, and specialties include pierogies, cheesesteak sandwiches, Buffalo chicken wings and, in our nation's capitol, Senate bean soup.
The Western United States has a rich culinary history and flavor -- everything from such Mexican-influenced fare (with an American flair) as fish tacos ... to San Francisco's famous sourdough bread and cioppino ... to French dip sandwiches (arguably "created" in Los Angeles) ... to the trout and salmon of the Pacific Northwest.
From Boston baked beans and Boston creme pie to Maine lobster rolls and Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, America is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to food.
Our food choices reflect our country. No two places are quite alike, yet it's our differences that bring us together and make us stronger.
While many of these choices are indeed available at other locations throughout Walt Disney World, the same holds true for sushi, pasta and steak. EPCOT's World Showcase is a place where Disney can bring everything together and put it on display, to proudly offer the best the world has to offer.
Just because we like fast food doesn't mean that it showcases America in the best light.
Can't the "American Adventure" reflect our culinary heritage, as well?