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eat the cup 2018, part seven :: oh, lionheart

it all seemed so magical: england's fresh-faced youngsters marching all the way through to a semi-final for the first time since 1990. everywhere, the delirious chants of "it's coming home". and then, deep into added time, the sad realization: it's not coming home. oh england, my lionheart.

now, if we're being really strict about things, my scottish ancestors would probably disown me for supporting England, because those are the bastards who drove them off their land and sent them packing to this country that's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. and indeed, shops in scotland have sold through their entire stock of croatian jerseys, as the natives rallied behind england's opponents in the semi-final. however, a few generations before they were starved and hounded from the lands they'd occupied for centuries, my particular brand of scottish ancestors would have encouraged me to support england [assuming that national football had even…

eat the cup, part six :: francophonie

well, friends, i can hold back no more. i've ducked out of featuring either france or belgium thus far in eat the cup 2018 because i had a feeling that i would have plenty of time to get around to them. now, i have to admit that i was a little hesitant when i saw that belgium were facing tournament favourites brazil in the quarterfinals, but even then, i had a feeling that we hadn't seen the last of the kingdom of waffles. last time around, i felt that they failed to gel as a team, despite their pirate's chest of talent. this time, i think that they've had the time to get used to each other.

as far as france is concerned, i can't imagine that anyone thought that they weren't going to get to at least this stage. their roster reads like a manager's wet dream: pogba, varane, kante, lemar, griezman and, of course, mbappe. part of me feels like calling kylian mbappe [assuming i had his phone number, which i don't and never will] and telling him he might want…

eat the cup 2018, part five :: last supper

no, it's not the last supper of this year's eat the cup, we still have a ways to go with that. today's feast was something i made in honour of the african contingent at this year's world cup, none of whom made it into the knockout round. the last time this happened, it was quite a scandal, where west germany and austria contrived to play their game to arrive at the exact scoreline necessary for both teams to advance and to freeze out algeria. and that, my friends, is why the final two games of each group in the opening round of the world cup are played at the same time. thanks for screwing that up for all of us ya krauts.

especially painful was the way in which senegal was eliminated, losing a place in the final sixteen because of a rule introduced at this world cup called "fair play". level with japan on points, goal difference and goals scored, they were cast out of the knockout round because they had picked up two more yellow cards over the course of thre…

eat the cup 2018, part four :: the new italy

one of the shocks of the world cup came before it even started, when italy, arguably the most football-y of footballing nations, were knocked out of qualification by sweden. i remember watching the game and thinking the entire time "it couldn't happen... could it?" italy is the team we all love to hate because they have a reputation for diving [although they've arguably ceded that crown to portugal or brazil] and for playing a resolutely defensive game that doesn't create a lot of excitement [an approach that's worked for any number of teams in recent years, including the ruthlessly organised swedes]. so while there was undoubtedly a bit of schadenfreude when we all found out that italy wouldn't be attending this year's world cup final. at the same time, it felt weird to see all the powerhouses of southern europe fall by the wayside by the first knockout round: italy, greece, spain, portugal, each of whom has been either world or european champion sin…

eat the cup 2018, part three :: a singular achievement

oh world cup, you can be cruel. my deepest respect to the iranian national team, who deserved better than to bow out to a profoundly average portugal. team melli has nothing to be ashamed of. goalkeeper ali beiranavand, who was homeless on the streets of tehran a few short years ago, saved a penalty from [takes deep breath] one of the greatest players of all time. he deserves to feel great about that for the rest of his life. and my heart bleeds for senegal, who were nudged out of a place in the last sixteen on "fair play points" [they had two more yellow cards than japan].

on a happier note, we've also seen some standout performances from supposedly "lesser" teams that have been rewarded. to whit, japan's 2-1 victory over much-touted colombia. it would be a remarkable result on its own, but it is especially so because it marked the first time that an asian team had ever beat a south american team at a world cup final tournament. ever. that deserves a littl…

eat the cup 2018, part two :: full of surprises

"the world cup is not a place where one finds a lot of surprises..."

- kate macdonald, 13.06.2018

"up yours, macdonald."

- the gods, 14.06.2018 and following


this is why it's a very good thing that i don't place sports bets. whatever i say, it's pretty much a given that the opposite is about to happen. so if you've been finding the run of surprising results at this year's world cup exciting, i accept your thanks.

today's post is one of those ones that always happens in the opening rounds, one where history kind of gets away from me and the teams i'm honouring have stumbled by the time i do my write-up. nonetheless, i'm happy to share the details of a meal that honours a few of the surprises that have greeted us in russia thus far.

the idea that i started out with for the evening's meal was simple: burritos. these tasty wraps native to northern mexico [although they're similar to the flautas of southern mexico] are thought to…

eat the cup, 2018, part one :: open up and say 'da'

as always at the beginning of the world cup tournament, i spend my first couple of days trying to decide which country to feature first. i had pretty much made up my mind that i would follow last cup's example and honour the hosts first off, but then i decided that it would be even more fun to come up with a meal that combined the cuisines of both teams in the first game.

of course, that would mean accepting that there were two teams on the pitch in the first game and i think some fans would say that was arguable. no one expected much of saudi arabia, to be fair. but no one expected a lot from russia, so having the hosts welcome everyone by stampeding over their first opposition like a herd of rabid camels was, to say the least, unexpected. their 5-0 mauling of the saudis gave produced a new hero, denis cheryshev, a man who didn't even rate inclusion in the "panini" sticker booklets that fifa produces, and the first meme of the tournament when russian president vlad…