Disney World’s Scots cuisine animates food experts

Scotch eggs are in fact English. Picture: Matt Stroshane
Scotch eggs are in fact English. Picture: Matt Stroshane
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SO much for haggis and stovies. Walt Disney World in Florida has created a range of dishes celebrating “the authentic tastes of Scotland” that might leave some Scots scratching their heads.

The Scottish offerings, which will be showcased at Disney’s Epcot theme park in a food festival in which the Scottish government is investing £200,000, include banoffee tart, Scotch eggs and a “Lock Lomond cocktail”.

And while tourists might be tempted at the thought of tasting traditional Scottish fare, both banoffee tart and Scotch eggs are in fact English, while “Lock Lomond” is more commonly known in Scotland as “Loch Lomond.”

The 18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which features ethnic food and drink from 25 different countries, is designed to showcase the culinary delights of countries across the world. Participants include South Korea, Ireland and Brazil, with delicacies local to each country on offer to visitors to Epcot, which is part of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

But this is the first time Scotland has been featured in the festival, which will take place between 27 September and 11 November this year and will include a “Scottish Marketplace” designed by Disney imagineers with Scottish government backing. Scotland’s prime position is as a result of the global success of Disney Pixar’s Brave, an animated film about Merida, a Scottish princess.

Promotional materials for the festival list “a Scottish banoffee tart rich with creamy banana and toffee flavors” and “Scotch Egg dipped in mustard sauce” as dishes that visitors can sample, and promises that “Scotch whisky aficionados can enjoy a Lock Lomond cocktail” made with “Scotch, Drambuie and dry vermouth”.

The Scottish Government yesterday confirmed it was involved in the Scotland Marketplace - which will belong to Scotland and be reused for future Disney events.

The government, Scottish Government, VisitScotland/EventScotland, Scotland Food & Drink and Scottish Development International are all involved in the project, and plan to invest up to £200,000. Scottish government-backed events taking place during the 46-day festival include a Burns supper, and ‘regional feast event’ entitled Scotland: Land of Food and Drink. It said that Disney retained creative responsibility for menus, but added that it had supplied over 40 menu ideas.

Scottish food experts expressed surprise at the menu. “They’ve got it so wrong,” said TV chef John Quigley, of Glasgow’s Red Onion Bistro. “It’s unbelievable. Where’s the lobster, langoustine, venison, cheese? It’s a Brigadoon image that gives out completely the wrong message about food in Scotland.”

He added: “Why would you suggest banoffee tart was Scottish? Where are they getting their information from? Despite Disney’s claim of a “Scottish” banoffee tart, the dessert was actually invented at a restaurant in East Sussex in 1972. Scotch eggs meanwhile, were believed to have been created by London department store Fortnum & Mason and have nothing to do with Scotland. It has even been claimed they orginated from an Indian dish called nargis kofta that involved a hard boiled egg and fried minced mutton. The ‘scotch’ in the title is believed to refer to a way of processing the meat, known as “scotching”, although some claim it is because Scottish beef was originally used in the recipe.

Gary Goldie, former Scottish hotel chef of the year, said: “Scotland does some amazing food. You would think Disney would have done a bit of research. There’s so much more available than Scotch eggs.”

He added: “I would have gone for something like stovies, maybe made with a nice shoulder of lamb. As for dessert, what about cranachan? We’ve got the best raspeberries in the world, after all.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “All elements of Scotland’s festival involvement are still in the development and design stages, including menus, the marketplace kiosk and all supporting materials around the festival. This is the case for all menus, though Disney are offering a sneak preview of their take on Scottish cuisine on their website.”

Intriguingly, after being contacted by Scotland on Sunday, Disney updated their publicity materials to correct the spelling of “Lock” to “Loch”, while the banoffee tart mysteriously acquired a “Glenfiddich whisky cream”. Michael Jenner, manager of festival content at Epcot said he was planning to add salmon and vegetarian haggis to the menu.

“It is always challenging to choose only two or three menu items for a specific region or country,” he said. “The Scotch Egg and the Scottish Banoffee Tartare comfort foods that we think will appeal to a broad audience. So we think we have a little something for everyone at the new Scotland Marketplace.”

Twitter: @emmacowing