Holy crap! It’s almost here! If you search World Cup on Google, look what you get?
Four days?!?! That’s like tomorrow! Time to abandon long intros and get to the food!
Group E – Denmark, Cameroon, Japan and Netherlands up next in The Football Foodie World Cup.
Denmark – Frikadeller
Frikadeller are a Danish version of a meatball (although not really a ball, since you are supposed to flatten them and shape them into an oblong American football shape), made of a mix of veal* and pork and seasoned with onion and all spice. Typically served with a brown gravy and white potatoes.
(*Most Danish recipes call for veal, but I made mine with beef and they were fine.)
Quick fact about the Danish team you need to know so you don’t look like an idiot this summer:
They beat Portugal in a qualifying match so they’re a legit team to make the field at the World Cup, but considered a middling club at best.
Exotic Danish food that the rest of us would probably toss:
Øllebrød, which is a porridge made from the scraps of rye bread boiled in beer.
Other awesome Danish snack:
Hot dog stands — pølsevogne — are ubiquitous in Denmark. Noma in Copenhagen was recently named the Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant Magazine for its modern take on Nordic food.
Cameroon – Fruit Salad with Sweetened Coconut Milk
When making this dish, it is wise to remember that both tomatoes and avocados are fruits and shouldn’t be considered savory (despite your palate’s memory connecting them to tossed salads and salsas). Slice fresh pineapple, banana, tomatoes and avocados. Lightly toss both the banana and the avocado in lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside. Bring 1 cup coconut milk combined with 1 cup of sweetened condensed milk to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer until it reduces, about 10-15 minutes and then cool. (Some recipes call for just the coconut milk, but it came out bitter and quite frankly, coconut milk doesn’t reduce easily on its own.)
Layer the fruit in a dish, spooning a small amount of the coconut milk mixture and crushed groundnuts (peanuts) between each layer. Serve chilled.
Quick fact about the Cameroonian team you need to know so you don’t look like an idiot this summer:
You need to know the name Samuel Eto’o, the Cameroonian striker, team captain and all-around powerhouse who was on the Cameroon 2000 Olympic gold medal squad, three time African player of the year, all-time African Cup of Nations top scorer and 2006 La Ligua top scorer.
Exotic Cameroonian food that the rest of us would probably toss:
Pangolin, or “scaly anteater” which obviously needs to be descaled before eaten. African pangolin are reaching near-threatened status in Africa due to hunting and deforestation. (Asian pangolin are already one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. Read more at SavePangolins.org.)
Other awesome Cameroonian snack:
Okra stew made with bitter greens.
Japan – Gyōza
Gyōza are the Japanese variation of the Chinese jiǎozi (pot stickers), made of a minced pork or chicken, cabbage, and sesame oil, chives and garlic. (Garlic being what sets gyōza apart from jiǎozi.) When pan-fried, as seen above, they are called yaki-gyōza.
Remember when I said sometimes it’s okay to cheat recipes in the Football Foodie World Cup because who has time to make 32 recipes in just two weeks? Well frozen gyōza are readily found in the US at Asian supermarkets and are super easy to make. Well worth the purchase if you can get them in a store near you, or pick up some from your local Japanese noodle house.
Quick fact about the Japanese team you need to know so you don’t look like an idiot this summer:
Despite being the first country (besides host nation South Africa) to qualify for the World Cup, they’re the least likely to win coming out of Group E, let alone the rest of the tournament.
Exotic Japenese food that the rest of us would probably toss:
Nattou, which are fermented soy beans. They smell like dead, wet gym socks. (If socks had once been alive and then could die and decompose in an even more pungent manner.
Other awesome Japanese snack:
Pocky. Chocolate Pocky. Strawberry Pocky. Melon Pocky. Cream Cheese Pocky. Pineapple Pocky. Blueberry Pocky. Men’s (Dark Chocolate) Pocky. Chocolate Banana Pocky. Green Tea Pocky. Pocky. Pocky. POCKY.
(Sorry, I love Pocky.)
Netherlands – Gouda
When I think of the Netherlands I always think of gouda cheese, which is one of the best cheeses to pair with beer (something else the Dutch are quite good at making.) Smoked gouda with a good lager is sublime.
Quick fact about the Dutch team you need to know so you don’t look like an idiot this summer:
Ranked #F in the world by FIFA, the Dutch team is expected to cake walk through Group E and then the Group F runner-up to make it to the quarter-finals.
Their nickname, the Oranje, comes from the the Dutch national color of orange, which might have something to do with the Netherlands being founded by the guy who invented Orange Julius and orange tulips, which some say are the secret to a really good blended orange drink. (Although I could be wrong, AP European History was a very long time ago for me.)
Exotic Dutch food that the rest of us would probably toss:
Nieuwe Haring, or “new herring” in English. Almost raw fish served with pickles and onions.
Other awesome Dutch snack:
Stroopwafel, a treat of a sweet syrup between two thin waffle cookies.
Voting and comments:
I cannot say enough good things about all four of these foods, but for my vote? It’s Cameroon all the way.