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The Original Story of Dumbo

Disney storyteller extraordinaire Wade Sampson returns to JimHillMedia.com with a tale that looks back at the original source material for this 1941 animated feature.

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Hey, gang!

Jim Hill here. Talk about your belated Christmas presents. After a far-too-long-absence, Wade Sampson has returned to JimHillMedia.com.

“So where has Wade been these past few months?,” you ask. Well, Mr. Sampson has been absent from JHM for the latter part of 2004 because he was busy dealing with a family tragedy and some related financial challenges. A good friend of this site, Disney historian Jim Korkis, took some time from his own whirlwind life to encourage Wade to return to sharing his insights into Disney history with JimHillMedia.com readers. Thankfully, Korkis’ effort worked. Which is why we’re now going to see some more stories from Mr. Sampson.

So thanks Jim and welcome back, Wade!

And now — without further ado — here’s Mr. Sampson’s story about Dumbo’s original story …

Several months ago, I wrote a column about wanting to know more about Helen Aberson.

The Disney feature film, “Dumbo” originated with a story by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, and was adapted for the screen by the great story team of Joe Grant and Dick Huemer. It appeared as a Roll-A-Book. A Roll-A-Book was a distinctive format. It featured about a dozen illustrations which appeared on a short scroll that was built into a box and the reader would twist a small wheel at the top of the box to get to the next panel illustration. Apparently no known copies of this original Roll-A-Book survive today and Helen’s family had never heard about the Roll-A-Book version of the story. Shortly after the Roll-A-Book version, the story and illustrations were reprinted in a regular book edition of no more than one thousand copies.

While visiting Disney historian Jim Korkis during Mousefest, my eyes popped out and my mouth dropped to the ground when he pulled out from his private collection a copy of that book edition. He told me that it had taken him over two decades to locate a copy and discovered it by accident at a flea market in Central Florida.

It is only 36 pages long (counting covers) and the bright yellow cover declares: “Dumbo the Flying Elephant by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl” with no mention of Disney at all. The cover features Dumbo with a red, white and blue color and a yellow clown hat with a red ball on it. Dumbo is waving a flag with red and white stripes (no blue square with white stars).

The book was published by Whitman Publishing Company and there are two copyrights: 1939 by The Roll-A-Book Publisher, Inc. and 1941 by Walt Disney Productions. It is roughly 8 by 11 inches.

In the illustrations, Dumbo looks very much the way he does in the feature film, although how many variations are there when it comes to drawing a baby elephant with huge ears? The artwork is very rough almost like quick black pencil sketches or charcoal. There is very little detail. Some pictures of humans are little more than stick figures with a dot for an eye.

The design of the book includes eight full page pictures (leaving barely twenty-four pages of text mixed with drawings that often take up half a page). There doesn’t seem to have been a model sheet for Dumbo or his mother as their appearance and proportions seem to fluctuate from drawing to drawing. Not to mention that some of Dumbo’s expressions are odd in the sense that they don’t communicate the innocence of his better known cinematic incarnation.

“Spring seems to be the season for circus babies. Anyway, this particular Spring was. There was a new baby lion, a new baby zebra, a baby bear, a baby hippopotamus, a baby camel, a bay giraffe and a new baby elephant. Everyone made a great fuss over the baby elephant because he was the cutest of all. His Mother Ella was very proud of him. She caressed him with her trunk while she listened to the other elephants praise him.

‘You can tell by his ears that he’s going to be a big fellow,’ said one elephant.

‘Why, he’ll probably be a regular Jumbo,’ remarked another.

And right then and there Mother Ella named him JUMBO.”

The circus is in its Winter quarters in Florida and is preparing to visit hundreds of cities and will be transported by a proudly puffing train. As they went from city to city, all the circus babies grew except for Little Jumbo who even though he ate his bale of hay each day only his ears grew and he often tripped over them.

While both Mother Ella and Little Jumbo were unhappy that everyone made fun of him because of his ears, they were happy when Jack, the elephant trainer decided to give the little elephant a part in the new elephant act. So Mother Ella scrubbed Little Jumbo extra clean, sprayed him with water from her trunk and hung him out on the line to dry. (The title page has a picture of this with two clothespins on each ear holding him to a clothesline while he looks at them with an annoyed glance.)

When the big day came, it was a balancing elephant act with the first one balanced on a large red wooden ball and five other elephants climbed on top of the first elephant. The illustration shows a plank on the back of the first elephant for the others to stand on.

Little Jumbo was “to climb up to the very tip-top of the highest elephant and stand up bravely, waving a little American flag. Mother Ella kissed him for good luck. Holding his little flag in his trunk, Jumbo started to climb up on the big elephant. He was so happy that he looked back to smile at Mother Ella.”

At that moment, he tripped over one of his big ears and fell while the crowd shrieked with laughter. He rolled over and over and hit the wooden ball and all the elephants tumbled and they “landed with such terrific bumps that the high-diver’s tank bounced into the air, the trapezes danced about crazily, the people fell out of their seats, and the tent began to topple!! Animals and people alike ran for safety! And when the tent collapsed completely, who should come crawling out but little Jumbo smiling and waving his American flag!”

“That night, the circus train carried two very sad elephants. One was Mother Ella. The other, little Jumbo. They had put him in the donkey car. And on his water pail, they had crossed out the ‘J’ in Jumbo and painted a big ‘D’. And from that moment on, little Jumbo was known as DUMBO.”

As further punishment, Jack and the ringmaster turned Dumbo over to the clowns. They painted a big clown grin and silly looking eyebrows on Dumbo and put a dunce cap on his head. Then twice each day, Dumbo had to perform the “fireman trick” where the clowns chased him up a ladder to the window of a toy house. The flames forced Dumbo to jump into the paper net the clowns were holding and Dumbo would fall through the net into a tub of mud while the audience laughed.

Dumbo was heartbroken and would cry himself to sleep. One day, after the performance and dripping with mud, instead of returning to his mother, he walked right out of the circus grounds. He just wanted to get far, far away.

Before he got very far, he heard a cheerful little voice say, “What’s the matter, little fellow? Did someone throw mud at you?”

That cheerful little voice belonged to a little robin in a red vest and a pearl-gray derby. The robin’s name was “Red”.

When Dumbo told Red his sad story, the robin decided the problem was that Dumbo had a complex about his ears and so he decided to take Dumbo to a friend of his, Professor Hoot Owl, M.D., Ph.D., M.A., L.L.D. Psychiatrist and Notary Public, who lived in a large tree.

Doctor Hoot Howl tapped Dumbo with little hammers, tickled him with feathers and shot guns off under his chair and finally questioned him about his dreams. Shyly, Dumbo admitted that he dreams about flying.

“What’s stopping you?” the Doctor shouted at Dumbo. “If you want to fly, go ahead and fly! Ten dollars, please.”

Red told the owl to charge it to his account and when he asked the doctor how Dumbo should begin flying, the doctor boomed, “That information will cost you ten dollars more—and this time it will be cash!” So Red decided he would figure out a way for Dumbo to fly.

Red’s plan was to have Dumbo repeat “I CAN FLY” a hundred times and then he took Dumbo to the top of a high cliff and had him jump off. Dumbo fell towards the ground with his legs, ears and trunk all flapping.

Red flew alongside and shouted, “Spread your ears! Soar! Pull yourself out of it before you crash!”

Suddenly, Dumbo wasn’t falling but flying. Every day, Dumbo practiced with Red flying alongside, giving him instructions. “And soon, he learned to loop the loop, spiral, glide, dip and soar just like a bird.”

“We’re going back to the circus, little fellow. But you mustn’t say a word about all this to anyone. I have a plan that’ll make us rich and famous, but we must wait until the time is ripe,” counseled Red.

Mother Ella was very thankful to see her son again and pleased to meet his new friend, Red. Dumbo was able to tolerate the hateful “fireman trick” because Red was there to encourage him and because of the wonderful secret.

After a few weeks, the circus came to Madison Square Garden, the most important stop on the circus schedule. The clowns even made the platform for Dumbo much higher, hoping the people would laugh harder. However, on the opening day performance as Dumbo was about to jump, Red flew up and whispered to him, “Now’s the time, Ace! Let ’em have it!”

Dumbo was frightened and when he jumped he couldn’t remember how to fly so he closed his eyes and kept falling. Red shouted instructions at him until he was almost in tears. Suddenly, Dumbo straightened his ears, dipped low and flew.

The audience and circus performers gasped. Dumbo flew in and out of the trapezes. “He looped the loop, dipped, circled, and soared. Then he swooped down low, scooped up a trunkful of water from the high-diver’s tank and shot it at the clowns. And he spanked the ringmaster with his trunk! Then he soared right through the door out into the street. Outside he caused a general panic. Women screamed! Men hid in doorways! Policemen blew whistles! Automobiles jumped curbs! Dumbo, scared at what he had done, flew back to the Garden. He was greeted with wild cheering and applause. He came to a graceful landing and bowed to all the people” and then ran over to Mother Ella and kissed her.

Dumbo became the star of the circus and all the posters advertised “Dumbo the flying elephant” and the ringmaster introduced him to audiences as “the eighth wonder of the world! The only flying elephant in captivity!” He had his own private car in the circus train and his name was painted on it in gold letters. In addition, he had servants to wait on him and his mother and Red.

“And the last we heard, they were on their way to Hollywood. For Dumbo is going to act in the movies!”

And the final picture is Red in his derby holding papers that say “contract”.

Once again, I would like to thank Jim Korkis whose love of the film “Dumbo” even exceeds my own for allowing me to share with the readers this lost piece of Disney history.

Jim Hill is an entertainment writer who has specialized in covering The Walt Disney Company for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, he has interviewed hundreds of animators, actors, and Imagineers -- many of whom have shared behind-the-scenes stories with Mr. Hill about how the Mouse House really works. In addition to the 4000+ articles Jim has written for the Web, he also co-hosts a trio of popular podcasts: “Disney Dish with Len Testa,” “Fine Tooning with Drew Taylor” and “Marvel US Disney with Aaron Adams.” Mr. Hill makes his home in Southern New Hampshire with his lovely wife Nancy and two obnoxious cats, Ginger & Betty.

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Jens Dahlmann of LongHorn Steakhouse has lots of great tips when it comes to grilling

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Sure, for some folks, the Fourth of July is all about fireworks. But for the 75% of all Americans who own a grill or a smoker, the Fourth is our Nation’s No. 1 holiday when it comes to grilling. Which is why 3 out of 4 of those folks will spend some time outside today working over a fire.

But here’s the thing: Though 14 million Americans can cook a steak with confidence because they actually grill something every week, the rest of us – because we use our grill or smoker so infrequently … Well, let’s just say that we have no chops when it comes to dealing with chops (pork, veal or otherwise).

So what’s a backyard chef supposed to in a situation like this when there’s so much at steak … er … stake? Turn to someone who really knows their way around a grill for advice. People like Jens Dahlmann, the Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef for Darden Restaurant’s LongHorn Steakhouse brand.

Given that Jens’ father & grandfather were chefs, this is a guy who literally grew up in a kitchen. In his teens & twenties, Dahlmann worked in hotels & restaurants all over Switzerland & Germany. Once he was classically trained in the culinary arts, Jens then  jumped ship. Well, started working on cruise ships, I mean.

Anyway … While working on Cunard’s Sea Goddess, Dahlmann met Sirio Maccioni, the founder of Le Cirque 2000. Sirio was so impressed with Jens’ skills in the kitchen that he offered him the opportunity to become sous-chef at this New York landmark. After four years of working in Manhattan, Dahlmann then headed south to become executive chef at Palm Beach’s prestigious Café L’Europe.

Jens Dahlmann back during his Disney World days

And once Jens began wowing foodies in Florida, it wasn’t all that long ’til the Mouse came a-calling. Mickey wanted Dahlmann to shake things up in the kitchen over at WDW’s Flying Fish Café. And he did such a good job with that Disney’s Boardwalk eatery the next thing Jens knew, he was then being asked to work his magic with the menu at the Contemporary Resort’s California Grill.

From there, Dahlmann had a relatively meteoric rise at the Mouse House. Once he became Epcot’s Food & Beverage general manager, it was only a matter of time before he wound up as the executive chef in charge of this theme park’s annual International Food & Wine Festival. Which – under Jens’ guidance – experienced some truly explosive growth.

“When I took on Food & Wine, that festival was only 35 days long and had gross revenues of just $5.5 million. When I left Disney in 2016, Food & Wine was now over 50 days long and that festival had gross revenues of $22 million,” Dahlmann admitted during a recent sit-down. “I honestly loved those 13 years I spent at Disney. When I was working there, I learned so much because I was really cooking for America.”

And it was exactly that sort of experience & expertise that Darden wanted to tap into when they lured Jens away from Mickey last year to become LongHorn Steakhouse’s new Vice President and Corporate Executive Chef. But today … Well, Dahlmann is offering tips to those of us who are thinking about cooking steak tips for the Fourth.

Photo by Jim Hill

“When you’re planning on grilling this holiday, if you’re looking for a successful result, the obvious place to start is with the quality of the meat you plan on cooking for your friends & family. If you want the best results here, don’t be cheap when you go shopping. Spend the money necessary for a fresh filet or a New York strip. Better yet a Ribeye, a nice thick one with good marbling. Because when you look at the marbling on a steak, that’s where all the flavor happens,” Jens explained. “That said, you always have to remember that — the higher you go with the quality of your meat — the less time you’re going to want that piece of meat to spend on the grill.”

And speaking of cooking … Before you even get started here, Jens suggests that you first take the time to check over all of your grilling equipment. Making sure that the grill itself is first scraped clean & then properly oiled before you then turn up the heat.

“If you’re working with a dirty grill, when you go to turn your meat, it may wind up sticking to the grill. Or maybe those spices that you’ve just so carefully coated your steak with will wind up sticking to the grill, rather than your meat,” Dahlmann continued. “Which is why it’s always worth it to spend a few minutes prior to firing up your grill properly cleaning & oiling it.”

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of heat … Again, before you officially get started grilling here, Jens says that it’s crucial to check your temperature gauges. Make sure that your char grill is set at 550 (so that it can then properly handle the thicker cuts of meat) and your flattop is set at 425 (so it can properly sear thinner pieces of meat).

Okay. Once you’ve bought the right cuts of quality meat, properly cleaned & oiled your grill, and then made sure that everything’s set at the right temperature (“If you can only stand to hold your hand directly over the grill for two or three seconds, that’s the right amount of heat,” Dahlmann said), it’s now time to season your steaks.

“Don’t be afraid to be bold here. You can’t be shy when it comes to seasoning your meat. You want to give it a nice coating. Largely because — if you’re using a char grill — a lot of that seasoning is just going to fall off anyway,” Jens stated. “It’s up to you to decide what sort of seasoning you want to use here. Even just some salt & pepper will enhance a steak’s flavor.”

Then – according to Dahlmann – comes the really tough part. Which is placing your meat on the grill and then fighting the urge to flip it too early or too often.

“The biggest mistake that a lot of amateur cooks make is that they flip the steak too many times. The real key to a well-cooked piece of meat is just let it be, “Jens insisted. “Of course, if you’re serving different cuts of meat at your Fourth of July feast, you always want to put your biggest thickest steak on the grill first. If you’re also cooking a New York Strip, you want to put that one on a few minutes later. But after that, just let the grill do its job and flip your meat a total of three or four times, once every three minutes or so.”

Of course, the last thing you want to do is overcook a quality piece of meat. Which is why Dahlmann suggests that – when it comes to grilling steaks – if you’re going to err, err on the side of undercooking.

“You can always put a piece of meat back on the grill if it’s slightly undercooked. When you over-cook something, all you can do then is start over with a brand-new piece of meat,” Jens said. “Just be sure that you’re using the correct cut of meat for the cooking result you’re aiming for. If someone wants a rare or medium rare steak, you should go with a thicker cut of steak. If one of your guests wants their steak cooked medium or well, it’s best to start with a thinner cut of meat.”

Photo by Jim Hill

As you can see, the folks at Longhorn take grilling steaks seriously. How seriously? Just last week at Darden Corporate Headquarters in Orlando, seven of these brand’s top grill masters (who – after weeks of regional competitions – had been culled from the 491 restaurants that make up this chain) competed for a $10,000 prize in the Company’s second annual Steak Master Series. And Dahlmann was one of the people who stood in Darden’s test kitchens, watching like a hawk as each of the contestants struggled to prepare six different dishes in just 20 minutes according to Longhorn Steakhouse‘s exacting standards.

“I love that Darden does this. Recognizing the best of the best who work this restaurant,” Jens concluded. “We have a lot of people here who are incredibly knowledgeable & passionate when it comes to grilling.”

Speaking of which … If today’s story doesn’t include the exact piece of info that you need to properly grill that T-bone, just whip out your iPhone & text GRILL to 55702. Or – better yet – visit  ExpertGriller.com prior to firing up your grill or smoker later today. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers is a sincere if somewhat surreal way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont

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Some people travel halfway ‘around the planet so that they can then experience the excitement of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. If you’re more of a Slow Living enthusiast (as I am), then perhaps you should amble to Brattleboro, VT. Where – over the first weekend in June – you can then join a herd of cow enthusiasts at the annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Now in its 16th year, this three-day long event typically gets underway on Friday night in June with a combination block party / gallery walk. But then – come Saturday morning – Main Street in Brattleboro is lined with thousands of bovine fans.

Photo by Jim Hill

They’ve staked out primo viewing spots and set up camp chairs hours ahead of time. Just so these folks can then have a front row seat as this year’s crop of calves (which all come from local farms & 4-H clubs) are paraded through the streets.

Photo by Jim Hill

Viewed from curbside, Strolling of the Heifers is kind of this weird melding of a sincere small town celebration and Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade. Meaning that – for every entry that actually acknowledged this year’s theme (i.e. “Dance to the Moosic”) — …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something completely random, like this parade’s synchronized shopping cart unit.

Photo by Jim Hill

And for every piece of authentic Americana (EX: That collection of antique John Deere tractors that came chugging through the city) …

Photo by Jim Hill

… there was something silly. Like – say – a woman dressed as a Holstein pushing a baby stroller through the streets. And riding in that stroller was a pig dressed in a tutu.

Photo by Jim Hill

And given that this event was being staged in the Green Mountain State & all … Well, does it really surprise you to learn that — among the groups that marched in this year’s Strolling of the Heifers – was a group of eco-friendly folks who, with their  chants of “We’re Number One !,” tried to persuade people along the parade route not to flush the toilet after they pee. Because – as it turns out – urine can be turned into fertilizer.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of fertilizer … At the tail end of the parade, there was a group of dedicated volunteers who were dealing with what came out of the tail end of all those cows.

Photo by Jim Hill

This year’s Strolling of the Heifers concluded at the Brattleboro town common. Where event attendees could then get a closer look at some of the featured units in this year’s parade…

Photo by Jim Hill

… or perhaps even pet a few of the participants.

Photo by Jim Hill

But as for the 90+ calves who took part in the 2017 edition of Strolling of the Heifers, once they reached the town common, it was now time for a nosh or a nap.

Photo by Jim Hill

Elsewhere on the common, keeping with this year’s “Dance to the Moosic” theme, various musical groups performed in & around the gazebo throughout the afternoon.

Photo by Jim Hill

While just across the way – keeping with Brattleboro’s tradition of showcasing the various artisans who live & work in the local community – some pretty funky pieces were on display at the Slow Living Exposition.

Photo by Jim Hill

All in all, attending Strolling of the Heifers is a somewhat surreal but still very pleasant way to spend a summer’s day in Vermont. And that’s no bull.

Photo by Jim Hill

Well, that could be a bull. To be honest, what with the wig & all, it’s kind of hard to tell. 

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Sunday, June 4, 2017

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Looking to make an authentic Irish meal for Saint Patrick’s Day? If so, then chef Kevin Dundon says not to cook corned beef & cabbage

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Let’s at least start on a positive note: Celebrated chef, author & TV personality Kevin Dundon – the man that Tourism Ireland has repeatedly chosen as the Face of Irish Food – loves a lot of what happens in the United States on March 17th.

“I mean, look at what they do in Chicago on Saint Patrick’s Day. They toss all of this vegetable-based dye into the Chicago River and then paint it green for a day. That’s terrific,” Kevin said.

But then when it comes to what many Americans eat & drink on St. Paddy’s Day (i.e., a big plate of corned beef and cabbage. Which is then washed down with a mug of green beer) … Well, that’s where Dundon has to draw the line.

Irish celebrity chef Kevin Dundon displays a traditional Irish loin of bacon with Colcannon potatoes and a Dunbrody Kiss chocolate dessert. Photo by Tom Burton. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Green beer? No real Irishman would be caught dead drinking that stuff,” Kevin insists. “And as for eating corned beef & cabbage … That’s not actually authentic Irish fare either. Bacon and cabbage? Sure. But corned beef & cabbage was something that the Irish only began eating after they’d come to the States to escape the Famine. And even then these Irish-Americans only began serving corned beef & cabbage to their friends & family because they had to make do with the ingredients that were available to them at that time.”

And thus begins the strange tale of how corned beef & cabbage came to be associated with the North American celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day celebration. Because – according to Dundon – beef just wasn’t all that big a part of the Irish diet back in the 19th century.

To explain: Back in the Old Country, cattle – while they were obviously highly prized for the milk & cheese that they produced – were also beasts of burden. Meaning that they were often used for ploughing the fields or for hauling heavy loads. Which is why – back then — these animals were rarely slaughtered when they were still young & healthy. If anything, land owners liked to put a herd of cattle on display out in one of their pastures because that was then a sign to their neighbors that this farm was prosperous.

“Whereas pork … Well, everybody raised pigs back then. Which is why pork was a staple of the Irish diet rather than beef,” Dundon continued.

So if that’s what people actually ate back in the Old Country, how then did corned beef & cabbage come to be so strongly associated with Saint Patrick’s Day in the States.? That largely had to do with where the Irish wound up living after they arrived in the New World.

“When the Irish first arrived in America following the Great Famine, a lot of them wound up living in the inner city right alongside the Germans & the Jews, who were also recent immigrants to the States. And while that farm-fresh pork that the Irish loved wasn’t readily available, there was brisket. Which the Irish could then cure by first covering this piece of meat with corn kernel-sized pieces of rock salt – that’s how it came to be called corned beef. Because of the sizes of the pieces of rock salt that were used in the curing process – and then placing all that in a pot of water with other spices to soak for a few days.”

And as for the cabbage portion of corned beef & cabbage … Well, according to Kevin, in addition to buying their meat from the kosher delis in their neighborhood, the Irish would also frequent the stores that the German community shopped in. Where – thanks to their love of sauerkraut (i.e., pickled cabbage) – there was always a ready supply of cabbage to be had.

“So when you get right down to it, it was the American melting pot that led to corned beef & cabbage being found in the Irish-American cooking pot,” Dundon continued. “Since they couldn’t find or didn’t have easy access to the exact same ingredients that they had back in Ireland, Irish-Americans made do with what they could find in the immediate vicinity. And what they made was admittedly tasty. But it’s not actually authentic Irish fare.”

Mind you, what Kevin serves at Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Disney Springs (which – FYI – Orlando Magazine voted as the area’s best restaurant back in 2014) is nothing if not authentic. Dundon and his team at this acclaimed gastropub pride themselves on making traditional Irish fare and then contemporized it.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

“Take – for example – what we serve here instead of corned beef & cabbage. Again, because it was pork – rather than beef – that was the true staple of the Irish diet back then, what we offer instead is a loin of bacon that has been glazed with Irish Mist. That then comes with colcannon potatoes. Which is this traditional Irish dish that’s made up of mashed potato that have had some cabbage & bacon mixed through it,” Kevin enthused. “This heavenly ham – that’s what we actually call this traditional Irish dish at Raglan Road, Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – also includes some savory cabbage with a parsley cream sauce as well as a raisin cider jus. It’s simple food. But because of the basic ingredients – and that’s the real secret of Irish cuisine. That our ingredients are so strong – the flavors just pop off the plate.”

Which brings us to the real challenge that Dundon and the Raglan Road team face every day. Making sure that they actually have all of the ingredients necessary to make this traditional-yet-contemporized Irish fare to those folks who frequent this Walt Disney World favorite.

“Take – for example – the fish we serve here. We only used cold water fish. Salmon, mussels and haddock that have been hauled out of the Atlantic, the ocean that America and Ireland share,” Kevin stated. “Not that there’s anything wrong with warm water fish. It’s just that … Well, it doesn’t have the same structure. It’s a softer fish, which doesn’t really fit the parameters of Irish cuisine. And if you’re going to serve authentic food, you have to be this dedicated when it comes to sourcing your ingredients.

Copyright Mitchell Beazley. All rights reserved

And if you’re thinking of perhaps trying to serve an authentic Irish meal this year, rather than once again serving corned beef & cabbage at your Saint Patrick’s Day Feast … Well, back in September of last year, Mitchell Beazley published “The Raglan Road Cookbook: Inside America’s Favorite Irish Pub.” This 296-page hardcover not only includes the recipe for Kevin’s Heavenly Ham but also it tells the tale of how this now-world-renown restaurant wound up being built in Orlando.

On the other hand, if you happen to have to the luck of the Irish and are actually down at The Walt Disney World Resort right now, it’s worth noting that Raglan Road is right in the middle of its Mighty St. Patrick’s Day Festival. This four day-long event – which includes Irish bands and professional dancers – stretches through Sunday night. And in addition to all that authentic Irish fare that Dundon and his team are cooking up, you also sample the fine selection of beers & cocktails that this establishment’s four distinct antique bars (each of which are more than 130 years old and were imported directly from Ireland) will be serving. Just – As ucht Dé (That’s “For God’s Sake” in Gaelic) – don’t make the mistake of asking the bartender there for a mug of green beer.

“Why would anyone willingly drink something like that?,” Dundon laughed. “I mean, just imagine what their washroom will look like the morning after.”

This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 17, 2017

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