For the first time ever, Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is including a Jewish-themed holiday kitchen during its six week “International Festival of the Holidays.”
This year, the Epcot theme park at Walt Disney World
Resort is including a brand new option in its annual tradition, the “L’Chaim! Holiday Kitchen.” The new dining option is described by the park as “classic Jewish fare and a little New York flare.”
So what’s on the menu? Visitors to the park can order pastrami on rye, a potato knish, matzo ball soup or a black and white cookie.
Beverage options include an egg cream, a Brooklyn-brewed lager or a blue cosmo cocktail.
The new kitchen opened to guests on November 18, alongside many returning favorites from the Epcot holiday festival, including the Bavaria Holiday Kitchen, the Shi Wasu Holiday Kitchen and Le Marché de Noël Holiday Kitchen. The entire festival runs through December 30 at the theme park in Orlando.
But some guests at the park have offered criticism of Epcot’s latest offering. Over the past week, several media reports and critics have pointed out flaws in the L’Chaim offerings.
Some have complained that none of the options are kosher, while others have pointed out that the offerings don’t exactly represent holiday food, have nothing to do with Hanukkah and more closely resemble a New York deli menu.
“Why have a Jewish kitchen when many Jews, arguably a big part of the target audience for this pop-up, won’t be able to eat the food?” wrote Aly Walansky earlier this week in Mic.
And in The Forward earlier this month, Valerie Berman called the booth “A shallow caricature of Jewish cuisine.”
Many people pointed out that there are two iconic foods generally associated with Hanukkah – doughnuts and latkes – and neither are represented on the menu. Matzo ball soup is more closely associated with Passover, while the other items are very New York-centric foods, which are unrelated to the holiday.
John Birchman tweeted on Tuesday that when he visited the pavilion, he found “No Latkes (potato pancakes) or Sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts), and not certified kosher. Maybe do some research on this first?”
While account cityFOODiful, based in Orlando, tweeted: “There is legit #Hanukkah food. Why are they serving matzo ball soup and pastrami when there are latkes and sufganiyot? It’s like they thought of Jewish food and failed to do [the] research!”
Disney did not respond to a request for comment from The Jerusalem Post by press time. In a statement to Mic earlier this week, a Disney spokesman said that the L’Chaim! kitchen “draws inspiration from traditional Jewish dishes,” and that “all of our festival food and beverage items are prepared in a shared kitchen space and due to those operational needs, we are unable to meet kosher guidelines.”