16 July 2010
eat the cup 2010, part 10
well here it is... it's all over but the crying. actually, since i'm writing this almost a week on, i should hope that the crying is over with too.
this represents the grand finale of eat the cup for another four years. some of you may recall that i might have expressed what some would call righteous indignation (and what others would call petulance --ed. at the last world cup final. it's true, i wasn't happy. it wasn't just because i was cheering for france (more because i was damn sick of hearing that people in their thirties were too old to win than because of any abiding love for the team), but because of how it was settled. to come that far and then to settle things by seeing how many career professionals can kick the ball into what is essentially an empty net is not proper. it's not even interesting.
i was getting awfully, awfully nervous (as anyone who follows my twitter feed could testify) as this cup final wound down that we were going to end up in the exact same situation. when that single goal was scored, it lifted my spirits not because of the team that scored, but because that goal meant it would count as a real game. (on a side note, i accept shoot outs in hockey, because at least the goalie has a fair shot. in soccer, if you're going to have one, i think that the defending team should be allowed 4-5 people in the net.) sure, there are arguments about whether or not the goal was scored from an offside position, but i'm happy enough about the lack of a shootout to look the other way on that one.
ok. i'm being a little deceptive here. i had picked spain to win this year, so the result gives that exultation, even in the absence of any bets, of being right. but it's more than that. i wanted spain to win so that i could cook paella.
what better way to finish off the tournament than with a dish whose mystique comes close to matching that of the sport itself. the hold that paella has on people transcends food. it is mythical. in the 90s, seinfeld made the dish the centre of an episode, where kramer waxes poetic (well, waxes articulate at least) about the sensuous properties of risotto's sexier cousin.
i think a lot of that appeal has to with saffron. spain was the european country that had the greatest contact with the mysterious moors (and is everywhere marked by their influence) and certainly it was from them that the early spanish learned the secret properties of those wonderful orchid stamens that make up the most expensive spice still commonly consumed. without saffron, paella IS risotto. thirsty rice that one prepares with any variety of vegetables and meat. in my case, i opted for seafood, because what makes things better than loading an already good base with fish and seafood? nothing, i say. the really shocking thing is how bloody easy it is to prepare a good paella. seriously. it's easiest with the proper pan, but even without, it's a snap.
and so, in a way, eat the cup comes to a fairytale ending. a team that was always seen as perpetually underperforming, who had never made it to a world cup final before, takes home the great prize. and i get to cook something (enjoyed with a cheap and delicious garnacha from valencia province, i might add) that finishes things in a rich, flavourful and unique way. Eat up and in four years, who knows what'll happen?