So, the World Cup is underway and England kick off their campaign tonight against Tunisia.
There then follows games against Panama before the final group match against Belgium.
No doubt, if England manage three wins, the national expectation will skyrocket (again) and this will definitely be the year right?
Well, for a team which was beaten by Iceland in its last tournament game, perhaps we won’t get too carried away, just yet. Now, if we reach the semi’s, then perhaps we can begin to dream, that is until Germany beat us on penalties.
Anyway, enough of the football talk; let’s discuss food. With 32 teams in the tournament, that’s a lot of national dishes to look at, so we have picked out a few of the lesser known countries.
Let’s start with Panama. One of their most traditional meals is known as Sancocho de Patio (Yard Stew), It’s a chicken broth mixed with yams, coriander, and other spices and vegetables, with a side of white rice. Panamanians swear by the healing powers of Sancocho, which is said to cure even the most terrible of hangovers. They had us at ‘cure even the most terrible of hangovers’.
How about Iran? Their national dish is the Chelo Kebab. It’s a simple kebab made with ground beef or lamb and spices. It’s served with rice and flatbread. What more do you need?
In Nigeria, in most homes you will find people making Jollof rice. This is a one-pot spicy rice dish cooked in tomato and broth and once you have eaten it, you will never want to eat plain rice again.
We couldn’t end this blog without looking at the food of the home nation, Russia.
One of my personal favourites is Borscht, a beetroot soup much beloved of our friends in the East. Here’s a recipe:
2 large beetroots (about 450g), diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 large potato, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ltr (2¾pt) beef stock
½ a green cabbage, finely shredded
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 2tbsp canned tomatoes
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the butter in a saucepan, then combine the beetroot, carrot, celery, potato, onion and garlic, and saute for a few minutes. Season well.
2. Bring the soup almost to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the cabbage and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.
3. Serve with a dollop of soured cream and don’t forget crusty bread for mopping up.