World Cup for Foodies: What Really Matters
The 2014 FIFA World Cup — which kicked off last week in Brazil and will continue until one team claims the trophy on July 13 — is for fans of soccer, or "football," if you prefer. That's a given. But it's also for fans of food. After all, if the teams and their supporters in the stands and at home are going to eat, they might as well eat well.
Of course, eating well means different things to different people — and certainly to each of the teams from 32 countries competing in this year's tournament. That's why their team chefs and nutritionists are providing foods that reflect not only concern for players' health and fitness, but also those players' cultural tastes. Team Italy, for instance, brought Parmesan cheese, olive oil and prosciutto, and the players plan to fuel up with pasta before every match, eating a tricolor diet that evokes the colors of the Italian flag: "pasta (white), tomato (red) and extra virgin olive oil (green)," their nutritionist, Elisabetta Orsi, told the Associated Press.
The Mexicans, meanwhile, have imported the ingredients for posole, as well as chile peppers, chipotles chilis and the prickly cacti known as nopales. England's team brought back its favorite condiment, ketchup, which had been banned by the team's previous manager.
Team USA, meanwhile, has schlepped oatmeal, peanut butter, Cheerios and A1 Steak Sauce, according to the AP. The Americans also brought an appetite for avocados (they consume about a case of them a day), as well as a dedicated chef (Bryson Billapando), a sports performance dietitian (Danielle LaFata) and an increased emphasis on healthy whole foods.
"Coach Jürgen Klinsmann loves a diet of fresh, organic vegetables — pesticide-free and flavored with herbs and spices instead of fatty options such as butter and oil," the AP reports. "Between 80 to 90 percent of the foods served are made from scratch."
And the fans? If those in the stadia stir from their seats, they can enjoy an international menu of foods, including U.S. concession staples like hot dogs and cheeseburgers, all washed down with Coca-Cola and Budweiser, and local fare from this year's host country. Brazilian favorites on offer include feijao tropeiro (sauteed beans served with an egg), tambaqui con fritas (fish and chips), and the traditional dessert bolo de rolo (rolled cake with guava), as well as drinks like Matte Leão Natural and Guarana Kuat. The menu was designed "to appeal to both international and local fans," FIFA's media department told ABC News.
But even fans who are staying super-local and kicking back on their couches to watch the games can feast appropriately. The Internet is rife with suggestions for how to eat your way through the games. You can try exotic foods from countries with teams in the competition — and even get ideas for food to serve with each and every matchup. Or you can honor the host country and kick it Brazil style.
Because whether or not you're a soccer fan, eating delicious foods from around the world is always a worthy gooooooooooal.