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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

i am fish three

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 be named after the burro [donkey] because they were little but could pack a lot. that's not confirmed, but it does seem like a good way to describe them. being from the north, they're generally made from the base of a wheat flour tortilla, rather than from the corn/ maize flour that's more common to the south. the soft tortilla is basically what defines the burrito, because, while there are common fillings like shredded or cubed meat, potato, cheese, refried beans and others, the end result is going to be a burrito.

i chose to do burritos to honour the shock win by mexico over germany. the reigning champions looked insipid, whereas el tri were crafty, determined and reminded us that keeper david ochoa was one of the superstars of the last tournament.

compact, enjoyable and wrapping everything up: a true burrito of a performance.

inside the burrito, i used shredded pork, fried up with garlic and onion and a sauce made of smoked red peppers and soft cheese blended together. these innards were inspired by key elements of serbian cuisine, since the serbs had dispatched last cup's darlings costa rica 1-0, despite being widely discounted as too old and lacking star power. today, of course, saw them humbled 2-0 by switzerland. [all the more humbling because much of the swiss team is made up of former refugees from kosovo and bosnia who fled to switzerland to escape the wars with serbia in the 1990s.] however, the serbs are far from done and they go into their final opening round game with brazil knowing that the five-time champs were lucky to get a draw against switzerland themselves. all is not lost and the team can fortify themselves with some of their rich, hearty traditional foods like grilled meats, pounds of peppers and a mysterious cheese called kajmak.

true kajmak is basically unavailable outside of serbia from what i understand, so to make my sweet smoked pepper and cheese blend, i used icelandic skyr, a sort of cheese/ yogurt hybrid that apparently goes with everything. this was, of course, a tip of the hat to everyone's sentimental world cup favourites. iceland started their first ever world cup campaign by holding argentina, which now seem's to be known as "lionel messi's argentina" in case you weren't aware that arguably the world's best player was on the team, since it's not like they mention it every fucking ten seconds... ahem... iceland held 2014 runners-up argentina to a draw.

the icelanders were not so successful today and saw their icy bottoms kicked by a resourceful and resilient nigerian team. but the dream is not over, even if it might be out of their hands. a win against croatia might not seem likely [croatia being a serious contender for the hottest team at the tournament, along with russia], but the croats arguably have less on the line with the game, being already assured of a place in the knockout phase. if iceland manage that victory and nigeria lose against argentina, then they will leapfrog the african nation right into the next round.

whatever happens, there is no nation that should feel more pride at just having made it to the finals. [for those who don't follow it regularly, this tournament is actually the culmination of a years-long qualification process. there is basically always a world cup going on, it's just that the early stage games between the likes bhutan and canada don't get much attention.] today's defeat came to a nation five hundred and forty times their size and with fifty times their gdp, so the idea that iceland has the resources to produce a team that can compete on an international level is remarkable in itself.

the result of this cultural syncretism was extremely pleasing. sauce played the role of both salsa and cheese but was actually a little lighter that made it appropriate for a warm summer night. and that means that there's room for dessert...

man candy of the match

ladies and gents, say hello to ricardo rodriguez. young ricardo plays at left back for ac milan and switzerland. he's a first generation swiss, having been born there to a spanish father and a basque/ chilean mother and was actually lucky to survive infancy, given that he was born with his stomach, spleen, liver and intestine in his chest. no wonder he has a reputation for being tough...

i'm not normally a scruffy beard lady, but even i have to admit he wears the look well. as long as the scruff doesn't obscure those full, sensuous lips, we're fine.

and if he weren't handsome enough on his own, his international duties connect him with his long-term bromantic partner granit xhaka. xhaka looks like the clean-cut schoolboy, although he has a reputation for occasionally killing people on the pitch, which gives them a wonderful "odd couple" vibe.

like most quality players, ricardo is rumoured to be of interest to a lot of top-flight teams, but let's all hope that the whispers connecting him to arsenal finally come to something so that these two can play together for club and country. 


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