One of my favorite bloggers, Bob from the Disney Dispatch has been writing a series on the Food and Wine Festival that I wish I had read last year as a Food and Wine newbie: Country Cuisine Confidential, where he is literally reviewing each country participating in the festival, and offering descriptions of the food and drink available at each country.
Yes, an explanation of “What IS it” for each country’s food.
As Bob himself describes the series:
The three most common words spoken by guests at Epcot’s annual Food & Wine Festival aren’t “that’s so good!” but “what is this?”. Unless you’re a serious foodie, you’re going to be flummoxed by flavors untasted and dishes undreamed. Luckily, it isn’t a big deal since the folks serving the food love to talk about it and will answer all your questions.
But wouldn’t it be nice knowing a bit about each cuisine before you belly up to the booth?
….. I’m offering a crash course in demystifying the dishes served. Country by country, we’ll look together at the menu items and do some detective work to discover how each dish fits into the national cuisine, which ingredients are used in its preparation, and what it (should) taste like.
Nothing, of course, beats actually tasting the food, but on the assumption that your mind gets it before your stomach, let’s bib up the brain and see what’s on the menu.
Here is an excerpt for his entry on Mexico:
Mexico made its first appearance at the Food & Wine Festival in 1996, the same year that the Festival itself began. This year, the Mexican booth is in front of the Mexico Pavilion, where it belongs.
Let’s look at our menu:
Tamal de Pollo
Mexico is serving simple dishes with exotic names. A tamal de pollo is a chicken tamale. To make a tamale, meat- or vegetable-filled masa is wrapped in corn husks and then boiled or steamed. You unwrap it from the husk to eat it. Unlike a taco or a burrito, which you can eat by hand, a tamale is typically a plated dish that you eat with a fork.
Masa (Spanish for ‘dough’) is made from whole corn, not wheat. At the Festival, the masa will be filled with seasoned chicken, probably not too spicy, and not slathered with sauce, either. Tamales lack the universal appeal of easily eaten tacos and aren’t available at chains like Taco Bell. They’re also time-consuming to cook at home and require special ingredients like corn husks. That’s your cue to eat lots of them here!
You can read the rest of this post here: Country Cuisine Confidential 2010, Part 14: Mexico
And find a link to descriptions to all of the countries right here: Country Cuisine Confidential 2010: All You Need to Know About All There Is to Eat and Drink at the Food & Wine Festival