I Ate Falafel at Epcot
Sometimes good eats is less about the body and more about the heart.
I may be taking some liberties, but I think the Lord knows this. The Son of Man came eating and drinking (Matt 11:19, Luke 7:34) . He fed the thousands, regularly shared meals with friends and his disciples, and when He returns to the earth, at the top of His to do list is a giant feast with us!
In a great vision, the Messiah released Peter, a Messianic Jew, from the dietary laws of Torah, for the purpose of bringing salvation to the the Gentile nations. (Acts 10:9-16) Previously forbidden to even associate or visit with non-Jews, the Lord now gave Peter a revelation to not call any man unholy or unclean. (Acts 10:28) As he was called to engage with the Goyim, he would certainly be invited to eat with them, sharing fellowship around the table. (Acts 10:2-3) The Lord freed him to graciously receive what he was given; to walk in the gift of hospitality.
Food, does not make us holy or unholy.... as it passes through the stomach into the latrine, says the Messiah Himself. (Mark 7:14-23) But I believe food can be a real ministry to the heart and soul.
Tastes and smells trigger memories. Traditional meals, particularly sitting at the table together, build a sense of family and community. I had a little revelation of this while eating Falafel at Epoct this past January.
Yep. Aviel and I traveled half way around the world, visited Disney's World Showcase where we could have embarked on a culinary adventure, sampling foodscapes from the four corners of the earth. And what did we eat?
Falafel is a deep fried ball of ground chickpeas, common in middle eastern cuisine. We usually eat it in a pita or lafa (sort of like a large and fluffy tortilla), with hummus, tahina, and Israeli salads. Falafel stands can be found in nearly every neighborhood and are a regular part of Israeli culture. To be honest, I don't love falafel. I had a few too many bad experiences with them while I was pregnant with Aviel, and still haven't quite recovered. Yet, there we sat, in Orlando Florida, at Walt Disney World Resort, in Epcot, eating food from home.
We had ventured, via monorail, from Magic Kingdom Park to Epcot, earlier that day to meet up with my sister Caitlyn, brother-in-law Daniel, and their three boys. After exploring in the Nemo themed Living Seas Pavillion, it was time for lunch. Daniel and Caitlyn suggested eating in Morocco, so off we went!
The Morocco Pavilion is stunning. The King sent his personal craftsmen to help with wood carvings, and tile work, ensuring true authenticity (at the standard Disney 1:3 scale, of course). We settled in at the Tangierine Cafe, and I ordered a sampler plate with three different pitas (chicken, lamb, and falafel) and salads (hummus, tabbouleh, and lentils), for Aviel and I to share. Upon sitting down for lunch, that's when it dawned on me,
"I eat this stuff once a week!"
We all sort of laughed about it, but inside I was wondering if I should have seized the moment and taken advantage of the yummy treats available that we would not get to eat in Israel.
While we feasted, I learned that Caitlyn and Daniel have developed a real taste for middle eastern food. Caitlyn even makes her own version of homemade falafels for their family on a regular basis. I vocalized dreams about having them over for dinner in our Jerusalem home, giving them a taste of these goodies from authentic vendors.
Aviel fell asleep in his stroller, and I enjoyed the time with my sister and her beautiful family.
After lunch we found the rest of our crew and pavilion hopped until dinner. By that point, Caitlyn and Daniel had left to visit some other sites, but Aviel and I stayed in the World Showcase with everyone else. When it was time for dinner, where did the Narron party want to eat?
You guessed it. Morocco.
Again, I found myself sitting in Morocco, at the same Tangierine Cafe that we had visited earlier, with the same looming thoughts about how we were spending our time on this once-in-a-blue-moon vacation! Aviel and I didn't actually eat Moroccan food this time. I ordered something else for us and brought it along. Interestingly enough, I can't remember what we ate, though I can remember exactly where we sat, who was there, and dinner conversation.
While we feasted, my brother, Connor, shared about eating Falafel in Israel with us, at a little gas station convenient store on the way to the Dead Sea. His memories, and small bit of knowledge about our home in Israel touched my heart. I was blessed to learn that he really enjoyed his time in Israel, and I was blessed that he, and my dad, were able to share with the rest of our extended family what our life is like in the Land. It certainly helped me to feel loved and known. That sort of us support is helpful for living out this great calling to serve the Lord in Israel with joy.
At the end of the day, I wondered why I even had the faintest bit of mealtime complaint brewing in my heart at all. The Lord ministered to me through my family on our two visits to Morocco. I don't know if they were blessed by our presence, but we were certainly blessed by them. Sure, Aviel and I could have eaten sushi in Japan, or chimichangas in Mexico, but we would have missed out on the bonding love of family that takes place around the table.
A Few Mom Thoughts on Epcot
I wasn't sure how much fun Aviel would have at Epcot as a 2 1/2 year old, but it turned out to be one of our favorite places! Walt Disney envisioned Epcot to be a "World's Fair", so it is quite educational in the overall experience. Its not overstimulating like some of the other parks, with slower moving attractions designed to be immersive times of learning. Because of the nature of the park, it was more of a relaxing day for both of us! Epcot is the biggest park, so be prepared for a lot of walking.
Pavillions in the World Show Case offer a variety of actives, including live performances, which Aviel loved. They can also be a great source for healthy food. Aviel also could have spent all day watching the model train in the UK. In Future World, The Seas with Nemo and Friends was his favorite. A trip to Epcot is worth it for this giant Nemo themed aquarium alone!
Don't hesitate to take your little ones along for a day of culture-filled fun!