The World Cup of Food

S. Africa FIFA World Cup Mascot

Image Courtesy of Nestor Cerami

We couldn’t let soccer’s 2010 FIFA World Cup go by without throwing in our two cents — which as you might expect, has less to do with our feet than with our mouths. So while serious sports fans spend this week debating which squads got the crap draw and which teams are most likely to make the second round, foodies can put all that aside and take a look at our 2010 World Cup Food and Drink Rankings, in which we’ve ranked the 32 participating nations from worst to best, based not on soccer skills but on the appeal of each country’s most iconic dish.

For the record, I offer no apologies for the dishes or the order in which they are ranked—I had many discussions with my international friends when researching these and they have disagreed with me on many—for that, you can leave your opinions in the comments.

#32. Australia – Vegemite on Toast

Australia - Vegimite on Toast

Usually when there is a petition on Facebook in support of something, you know it’s a desperate plea, and Vegemite on Toast is no exception. This isn’t one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of foods, this is simply a hate it kind of food. Yes, there are nearly 111,000 facebook users on the record as supporting it, but I’m pretty sure that’s roughly the population of Australia, right? Let’s hope for their sake that the Aussie lads find something better to chow on before their matches in South Africa.

#31. Ivory Coast – Kedjenou

Ivory Coast - Kedjenou

Factoid: the current coach of the Ivory Coast team is former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. I’m sure old Sven has some tricks up his sleeves planned for the field, but you’ve got to admire the Ivory Coast’s cooking tricks, too. Kedjenou, like many other West African dishes, starts with some tough old chickens and basically cooks the shit out of them ’til they’re edible. It may not be the quickest way to make a meal taste good, but it sure as hell beats Vegemite.

#30. Slovenia – Buckwheat

Slovenia - Wilted Greens with Buckwheat Noodles

I task you with something — Google “Slovenia” and “food.” Whatever the result is it’ll surely include buckwheat. Buckwheat, buckwheat and more buckwheat. Could you be any more boring, Slovenian cooks? If you must have a Slovenian soccer dish, I sifted through the ES archives and stumbled upon this tasty dish, vegetarian too — Wilted Greens with Buckwheat Noodles (and an egg).

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Top 10 New Things to Put in Your Drink

We’ve certainly never been against drinking here at ES — it just traditionally takes a back seat to eating. However, in the last year we’ve found ourselves getting more and more excited about cocktails — because every time we go out we discover our favorite ingredients have migrated from the plate to the glass. From fruits and vegetables to spices and more, here are our top 10 favorite new things to mix in our drinks.

10. Saffron

A saffron ice cube anchors the Venetian, one of several new food-inspired cocktails at Tulio in Seattle.

Not just for paella anymore, the Spanish spice has started showing up in cocktail glasses, too. Saffron Restaurant and Lounge in Minneapolis has mixed the pricier-than-gold flakes into saffron-mango mojitos, saffron-blood orange martinis, and their current offering, the gin-based Saffron Rose. Tulio, an Italian restaurant in Seattle, recently introduced The Venetian — a vodka cocktail poured over an orange-y saffron ice cube. For those experimenting at home, the folks over at Video Jug have a video on how to mix a saffron vodka martini. (Tulio photo: Evan Johnson)


9. Beets

Fresh beet juice, ginger and vodka make up the Beetnik at Colorado's Dogwood Cocktail Cabin.

It’s hard to make a drink look more dramatic than when filled up with bright red beet juice, as in the beet sangria at New York’s Tailor or the Beetnik, a vodka-ginger-beet concoction served at Crested Butte, Colorado’s Dogwood Cocktail Cabin. Meanwhile, the gals at The Humble Kitchen have a recipe for their own tequila-based Beetnik. (Dogwood photo: eenwall)

8. Mole

Mole bitters liven up the Palermo Gentleman at Death + Co. in New York.

Mexico’s spicy-sweet chocolate treat is making the surprising transition from tamales to cocktails via Bittermens Bitters newest product, Xocolatl Mole Bitters. A neat way to add quite a substantial kick to any drink, the mole bitters are showing up in new cocktails like the tequila-based Chipilo at Brooklyn’s Buttermilk Channel and several options at Manhattan’s Death + Co. (Photo: Vidiot)

7. Sriracha

Every Top Chef contestant’s favorite secret ingredient can save a cocktail menu too, as in “El Scorcho,” a fiery mix of habanero infused vodka, sriracha, and jalapeno foam at Bend, Oregon’s Blacksmith restaurant. The sauce also makes a great replacement for Tabasco in bloody Marys — the blog White on Rice Couple has a great recipe, and if you want to get super-serious, check out their instructions on how to make sriracha from scratch. (Photo: White on Rice Couple)

6. Chinese Five Spice

A Chinese five spice grilled lemon garnishes the Fortune Teller at Bar Pleiades in New York.

Another ingredient Chinese chefs may be shocked to discover in American cocktails, C5S is showing up both as a garnish, as in the Fortune Teller drink served at the Surrey Hotel‘s new Bar Pleiades in New York, and as the basis of a drink, such as Imbibe magazine’s Five-Spice Fizz. (Photo: Bar Pleiades)

Next: Top 5 New Things to Put in Your Drink

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