It’s finally summer 2018, and the entire world is abuzz over the World Cup. Let’s see how the game’s top countries stack up when it comes to their most popular foods.
In terms of sports, Americans can be a bit insular. We love our football, baseball and hockey, but what about soccer—or football, as the rest of the world calls it? Every four years, we finally get a chance to see competition on a global stage with the FIFA World Cup. And in 2018, that’s no exception.
Getting a glimpse at the super fit athletes, their uniforms, hairstyles, mannerisms and other cultural attributes is absolutely fascinating. So as we continue to watch each team battle it out before the finals, let’s take things from a different angle. The following is a rundown of the staple foods enjoyed in five of the teams’ home countries: Brazil, Germany, Spain, Argentina and France.
An exercise in culinary exploration
We encourage you to jazz up your weekend dinner party or family’s weekday supper with a popular dish inspired by the game of the night. To complement our recommendations, we hope to give you some interesting historical tidbits along the way. You know, food for thought.
So, without further adieu, here are some yummy recipes undoubtedly devoured by today’s greatest World Cup stars.
5 Fabulous World Cup Inspired Dishes
Brazil – Feijoada
Famous for their street food, moqueca stew, barbecue meat and other local specialties, Brazilians are extremely talented in the kitchen. But perhaps their best-known dish is one associated with Rio de Janeiro (and Carnival), and that’s feijoada. This traditional meal is tied to the culture’s laid-back weekends in which families get together, listen to music, watch soccer games, and the like. It’s also served on special occasions.
The multi-component dish is comprised of a bean stew cooked with savory beef or pork, rice, farofa, collard greens, plantains and oranges. It’s a pretty eclectic mix, if we might say. Luckily, home cooks are used to being resourceful. We recommend following this awesome Brazilian feijoada recipe made conveniently in a slow cooker or dutch oven over the stove.
Germany – Schnitzel
Most people associate this hilariously named food with Austria, Italy or countless other countries. But in recent years, tourists visiting Germany have gone crazy over the country’s unique preparation of what many assume to be a boring fried meat. Now, schnitzel is primarily known for its German variation, which prefers pork as opposed to veal or chicken.
In this traditional recipe, thinly pound pork is lightly breaded, coated in a crispy crust and fried to a golden brown. So, what’s the special ingredient? German schnitzel proves even more delectable since it’s dressed in a yummy sauce or gravy. We found a classic schnitzel recipe that allows you to easily substitute the protein and sauce of your choice. While the lemon spritz over chicken sounds divine, the creamy mushroom gravy over pork schnitzel wins the face-off.
As for the history of the dish? The experts are unsure. We imagine this fried delicacy being particularly popular among young people when the biergartens let out. Always be sure to serve with a fresh, cold pilsner.
Spain – Paella
Spanish cuisine takes on many different faces. When Americans think of Madrid or Barcelona, they picture a quaint restaurant serving tapas, hearty beef roasts, delicious gazpachos or egg tortillas (Spanish omelets). But there’s one dish worth running the extra mile for, and that’s Paella.
This generous rice dish combines saffron flavor and a vast variety of seafood or meats for its sustenance. Of course, this describes the paella of today. Historians say the meal has come a very long way since its roots in Valencia some time in the early 19th century. Back then, chefs tossed together rabbit, chicken, duck, local snails, beans—pretty much anything they could get their hands on.
To satisfy the modern eater’s stomach, most contemporary versions of Paella eliminate the beans and lesser-known proteins while playing up the seafood. For a super special meal, consider trying this Spanish paella with chorizo recipe with jumbo shrimp, clams and mussels. The saltiness of the seafood and smokiness of the sausage make for a winning combination.
Argentina – Asado
South American cuisine is so incredibly diverse. It can be difficult to pinpoint exact influences as they exist from country to country. But Argentinians are known for quite a few signature dishes. From empanadas and chimichurri sauce at lunchtime to dulce de leche for dessert, these people really know how to indulge. So it’s only natural we decided to feature the #1 beloved staple from Argentina: asado, or as Americans know it, barbecue.
This traditional dish is all about community, camaraderie and the spirit of the occasion. In that sense, consider it the ultimate choice of the World Cup. For generations, Argentinian families have created social events around asado, assigning a professional “asador” to man the barbecue as everyone else celebrates. Gauchos (their version of the cowboy) popularized steak through the mid-19th century thanks to massive herds of cattle traversing throughout the Pampa region.
Today’s inhabitants carry on the asado tradition with scrumptious skewered beef served at home, in restaurants, on the streets and beyond. We found an easy step-by-step guide for preparing the ultimate Argentian asado. It’s summer, so go ahead—fire up the grill!
France – Coq Au Vin
French food has a reputation for being somewhat fussy. Home cooks would rather go out to a Michelin-approved restaurant than attempt to cook this renowned cuisine on their own. But in reality, millions of French people (66.9 million to be exact) are cooking for themselves every night of the week—World Cup players included.
Noted for its delicate yet complex nature, French food is truly a divine treat. From French onion soup and beef bourguignon to peasant’s pie and chocolate soufflé, there’s something for everyone. One food popularized all around the world thanks to Julia Child, Martha Stewart and other foodie enthusiasts is coq au vin. In English, it’s a chicken casserole cooked in red wine.
Coq au vin is such an essential delicacy in France thanks to the country’s many celebrated wine regions. Chefs in the countryside use local wines to infuse sensational flavor and richness into the chicken. From there, they add mushrooms, pancetta, bacon, onion, garlic and other components. For a quicker, easier approach to this slow-simmering dish, try Ina Garten’s delectable coq au vin recipe. We promise it won’t disappoint.
Excited to see your favorite country play? Make your World Cup experience that much more enjoyable by introducing some global influence to your usual cooking routine.