What Happened When I Ate Like A Disney Princess For A Week

Growing up, I loved The Little Mermaid. Like, love loved it. My mom was convinced we would wear out the VHS tape, I watched it so many times. Looking back, it is totally unclear to me why, of all the movies and all the princesses, Ariel was the one I latched on to. As I grew up, I found out that many of my friends had similar stories: a princess or Disney movie that they were completely obsessed with sometime between the ages of 3 and 7.

For me, that obsession manifested in wanting to also become the princess. My cousins and I practiced swimming with our legs together, and I had fantasies of having long, flowing red hair I could whip out of the water.

But just because it's been close to two decades since I've played pool mermaids, and my original VHS tape has gone the way of Goodwill, doesn't mean that Ariel, or the other princesses, have completely loosened their grip on me. I may never get to be a princess, but what if I'm able to eat like one, if only for a week?

I decided to actually try it, as best as I could. The rules? Eat like a different princess every day, basing my decisions off both what they eat on screen and where, approximately, the films take place.

I got ready for what I thought would be the best food week of my life. I was wrong. Really wrong.

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Photo: Photofest.
Day 1: The Little Mermaid
Of course, I kicked off my experiment with my favourite mermaid. Before you even ask, no, I did not eat fish. And I most certainly did not eat flounder, her best friend. Don't even think about it.

What mermaids truly consume on a daily basis is unclear. If you watch the movie, the closest she ever gets to eating something is when Sebastian is served to her, still completely alive and breathing, at which point he escapes. But given that she can communicate with fish (and seagulls), I doubt she would have eaten a dead crab, either.

The only real reference we get to mermaid diets is when King Triton, Ariel's father, derisively refers to men as "fish-eaters." So if she's living underwater, and she's not eating fish, she must be eating, you guessed it, seaweed.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Breakfast
I started my day with a simple seaweed salad, since I doubt there would have been many more options under the sea. While it might be total normalcy for a mermaid, I wasn't exactly thrilled by the briny clump of plants. Playing Ariel is a lot more fun than eating like her, apparently.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Lunch
Looking for a bit more diversity in my second meal, I went with vegetable sushi. The seaweed mermaids love, now with more food from the land!

Sure, no one in the movie eats sushi, but hear me out. It's unclear exactly what country they're in. The original story was written by Hans Christian Andersen, who was Danish, but he doesn't mention a location in his text. In the movie, the only location that is ever mentioned is Glauerhaven, the fictional home of a princess whom Prince Eric had rejected before meeting Ariel. Given that we're dealing with a solidly "once upon a time" world, not Denmark, can we know for sure that they weren't eating hand rolls in Prince Eric's kingdom?

Plus, sushi is delicious. Lunch was a success.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Dinner
For dinner, I tried to settle on a creative dish that Eric's chef might whip up for his former-mermaid bride. I find it doubtful that, after her transformation, Ariel would start eating fish, or other meat at all for that matter. So how would a classically trained French chef who is also maybe a psychopath impress a mer-princess?

I came up with a genius idea: squid-ink pasta. It's an elegant dish that might remind Ariel of home. I even went and bought some at Whole Foods. Then it hit me: Where does the squid ink come from? Are the squid being milked for it?

Nope, squid are not willingly giving their ink. They are, in fact, killed in the process. Which is fine for me, Marshall Bright, 21st-century non-princess, but not for Ariel. Defeated, I wondered if I'd have to eat another bowl of seaweed. Then (thankfully) a coworker told me about Chop't Salad's Chilli Cashew Kelp Noodle Bowl, which seemed like the perfect compromise. While I couldn't really taste the kelp, I was eating a seaweed-heavy, vegetarian diet, just like Ariel.

While I appreciate the mermaid's care for the environment and underwater creatures, I have to admit, I was looking forward to a more royal diet for the rest of the week.
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Photo: Photofest.
Day 2: Aladdin
Luckily, the next day, I was eating like Princess Jasmine, perhaps the most luxe-living of all the princesses. She not only has a huge palace and a pet tiger, but she's literally never left her home. It's safe to say that she's never worked a day in her life and is waited on hand and foot.

Unlike Ariel, we can situate Jasmine in a bit more of a real place. She lives in Agrabah, a fictional city in the Middle East, on the river Jordan. But then again, her palace is based on the Taj Mahal, located thousands of miles away. I decided that if the Disney artists could take some inspiration from India, then my meals could, too.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Breakfast & Lunch
The closest Jasmine comes to eating food on-screen is an apple that Aladdin steals from her. (Side note: He also steals a loaf of bread, which looks way more like a baguette than a pita. Where is this city?!) But after a little research, I learned that a typical breakfast in this part of the world would consist of mezze, or small plates of salads and dips.

Prepping a bunch of small plates for breakfast seemed like a lot of work, so I ordered this dish from Seamless. Turns out, there was plenty left over for lunch. Since I didn't have Jasmine's servants to help me out with my meals, I decided leftovers were acceptable.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Dinner
I may not be a princess, but I do live in New York City, where anyone can be royalty for a modest delivery fee. After working out at the gym, I decided that my roommate and I both deserved dinner brought straight to our door. We ordered from our favourite Indian restaurant. Hey, even if Agrabah isn't the Taj Mahal, clearly there's some kind of cross-cultural exchange that I'm going to go out on a limb and say includes food. Maybe Jasmine and Aladdin like Indian takeout after a long day, too.
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Photo: Photofest.
Day 3: Frozen
Like Aladdin, Frozen is set in a region, if not in an actual place. Arendelle is somewhere in Scandinavia, though the few mentions of food seem more classically Western European. The two sisters talk about fondue, and in one scene, Anna accidentally hurls a bust on a pile of very French-looking desserts. Like the royal family in The Little Mermaid, it looks like the sisters may have been raised with a French chef.

I went into the day with a vague plan to eat as Norwegian as possible, but maybe allow some other European influences to creep in.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Breakfast & Lunch
A typical Scandinavian breakfast includes things like cured fish, muesli, and eggs. Since that's a lot for a workday, I settled on some porridge. Then I got to work and remembered it was Bagel Friday. It's exactly what it sounds like: free bagels for all. It is the best day of the week.

For the second time that week, I bent the rules after some, ahem, rationalisation. I'm sure if Anna and Elsa had known about Bagel Friday, they'd have it declared a national holiday in Arendelle.

Later, lunch turned into a bit of serendipity: I was flying by the seat of my pants trying to figure out what to eat, when some free food arrived in the kitchen. It included meats, cheeses, and strawberries, a spot-on Scandinavian lunch.

As a bonus, there were even little sandwiches with cured salmon. It was the perfect tribute to one of my favourite lines in the movie:

"I mean it's crazy, we finish each other's..." "Sandwiches!" "That's what I was going to say!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Dinner
If I wanted authentic Scandinavian food, however, I'd have to go to the source: Ikea.

After work, I hopped the Ikea ferry to Brooklyn to get some meatballs and particle-board furniture. They don't photograph well, but if you haven't treated yourself to Swedish meatballs in a giant furniture store, you're missing out.

I also wanted to grab a 50-cent hot dog (I'm a princess, after all!), but we were about to miss the ferry back and had to make a run for it. Next time.
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Photo: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock.
Day 4: Beauty And The Beast
Beauty and the Beast
is the first movie that I'm able to narrow down to a country. It's undeniably in France, which meant I was going to eat three courses of French food. Fine by me. Plus, it was finally the weekend, which should theoretically make eating like a princess easier to manage.

The movie also contains one of the most famous food scenes in all of Disney: the song "Be Our Guest," with its veritable parade of French cuisine.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Breakfast
While I don't have a quaint village I can wander through in the mornings for groceries, I do live in a neighbourhood with a large Senegalese population, which means I hear a lot of French on the street and can get a really good croissant a few doors down. In honour of Belle, I staked out a spot in the park and read for a while.

In the movie, Belle occasionally drinks tea from a sentient cup, but since I'm thoroughly addicted to coffee, I opted for my typical brew.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Lunch
I also grabbed lunch to go where I got breakfast: a Croque Monsieur, which I transformed to a Croque Madame with the addition of an egg at home. But, this being New York, my attempt at a French sandwich was complicated. Since it came from a Muslim-owned business, turkey stood in for the typical ham. Inexplicably, it was also served on rye bread. I doubt Belle or the Beast would have known what was going on, but all in all it was a passable meal.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Dinner
By dinnertime, the charms of the experiment were wearing off. I was ordering in more than had I intended, but without a princess' staff, I wasn't finding time to eat the complicated feasts without help. None of my spoons, plates, or candlesticks had come to life to present me with an elaborate French dinner, so I ordered crepes and called it a day. C'est la vie.
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Photo: Photofest.
Day 5: The Princess And The Frog
While Belle's solo feast with enchanted flatware may be the most iconic princess food moment, no current princess knows more about food than Tiana. And, unlike the rest of her fellow royalty, she has her own career ambitions: to be a restaurateur and chef.

Not surprisingly, then, this movie is set in jazz-age New Orleans and filled with references to classic low-country cuisine: crawfish étouffée, "man-catching" beignets, and red beans and rice. Everyone, including a trumpet-playing alligator, loves the food of the Big Easy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Lunch
I had started missing the more simple, veggie-rich fare of my day as Ariel. After a day of eating like Belle, I wasn't hungry for breakfast and subsisted off coffee until lunch. Keeping with the time period, I was attending the semi-annual Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor's Island. Perhaps crabby from the days of rich food, I felt the urge to warn all the modern-day New Yorkers dressed in flapper garb about the impending stock-market crash.

The finger food in the tent, echoing the serendipity of my Frozen freebies, consisted of seafood-heavy bites that, while not Cajun in nature, definitely wouldn't be out of place in a New Orleans restaurant. I'm sure if Tiana's restaurant were real, I would be able to get some good shrimp salad and raw oysters.

I hadn't tried to drink like a Disney princess at any point this week, and at first I wasn't sure if slurping down free cocktails was the way to go, given that The Princess and the Frog is set during Prohibition. However, a close viewing of the song "Almost There" shows more than a few Champagne flutes. Did Tiana actually want to open a speakeasy? I decided to embrace the Gatsby-esque ways of my fellow costumed partygoers and enjoy a drink or two.
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Photo: Courtesy of Marshall Bright.
Dinner
In the movie, Tiana's gumbo is her specialty, so I couldn't think of a better way to end the week than with a big pot of my own. Veggie-rich and comforting, it was the perfect antidote to the gin I'd consumed earlier that day, as well as to a week of rich eating.

I thought I'd be sad to end my experiment and go back to just being Marshall the editorial assistant, but trying to eat like royalty without the actual title is exhausting. And, try as I might, I couldn't get anyone at work to start calling me Princess Marshall, anyway.
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