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eat the cup 2014, part nine :: a meeting of opposites

the end is near!

i'm lucky that i've found a new book to occupy my time now that i have to bear gaps of days between world cup games, but it's still felt strange waiting for things to progress. the worst thing is that the more that the games slow down, the closer we get to the end. they're stretching out those last joyful and terrible moments...

i'll admit, i was nonplussed by the quarter final matches. compared to the opening round and the incredible battles of the first knockout round, the next round seemed rather pale. half the people involved seemed to want to be doing something else, perhaps an effect of the brutal heat. in fact, the only really compelling moments of the entire round came in its very last minutes, when irrepressible costa rica were finally defeated by the determined dutch and the concept of the "penalty specialist" entered the football world's vernacular. [note :: there is no such thing as a goalkeeper who is a specialist at taking penalties. penalty shots are hugely, ridiculously, unfairly weighted in favour of the person taking the shot, basically playing him against his own nerves. the keeper can be sharp, move in the right direction, exhibit skill and occasionally be able to block, but he is still a little person in a very big net. the "penalty specialist" manoeuvre was a sort of "van gaal mary" pass, substituting a player who had never stopped a penalty in his life with a player who had, psyching up the latter to believe in his own infallibility and freaking out the opposite team with the idea that it they might be witnessing genius. but hey, it worked and history, even sports history, is written by the victors.]

despite the less than inspiring games that passed last week, however, we have arrived with the four semi-finalists we might have expected to emerge from that group. there were no surprises, which means that my prediction that colombia would edge out brazil was totally wrong and that dom fared considerably better on his predictions.

it also left me with the challenge of coming up with a meal that combined the cuisines of brazil and germany, which is no easy feat. after all, brazil is marked by the exotic, a complex blend of many cultures and ingredients both indigenous and imported. german food is hearty, simple and historical; a single tradition stretching back centuries. plus, of course, the two countries are located vastly different climates, which means that the actual ingredients used in their cooking are far apart. however, where there is a culinary will, there is a way.

in this case, the way was a tweaked version of feijoada, the national dish of brazil, made of meats [usually pork, ham and bacon] and black beans to form a rich stew. there's not actually a lot to explain beyond that. you take the meat, you fry it in garlic, onions and oil until it's browned, you add the black beans [cooked or canned], chopped tomatoes [or canned tomatoes] and enough water to cover the whole thing. and you allow it to simmer and reduce, usually for an hour or so. i added cumin and bay leaves, which are standards, but in a tip to the german team, i used bratwurst as one of my meats and, at the same time as the beans, i added sour cherries, a staple in many traditional german dishes. i quite liked the effect of the cherries, which add an interesting element to the stew, fruity but not sweet.

serve over rice to ensure soppage of all the juices

so as it turns out, opposites can attract, with a little planning.

in terms of the game... as i mentioned earlier, dom had predicted that germany would win the game overall. i had thought to see a brazil-argentina final, but with brazil slipping from undistinguished to injured, i think that the germans have the edge in this one, no matter how loud the hometown support. i still think that team germany is capable of more than we've seen thus far. they held off an indifferent-seeming french side in a match that made iran-nigeria look scintillating, but die mannschaft seem capable of much more than we've seen thus far. their delightful sour cherries will be brazil's sour grapes.

and after all that sour, it's time for something sweet...

man candy of the match

germany edged by france thanks to a well-placed header by mats hummels, which doubtless set a lot of hearts aflutter, because it meant that there was a glimmer of hope that he might do something wild like whip his shirt off in celebration. sadly, it was not to be. in fact, unlike fellow german teammate mario gomez, hummels seems to prefer to keep it fairly demure. but there's always the semi-finals.

he's got a sort of mysterious vibe to him, a steady yet paradoxically remote gaze that entrances you and the next thing you know, you're following him into some mysterious adventure, heedless of your own safety or sanity. at least, that's the way i think of it. i haven't actually gotten close enough to follow him anywhere, which is probably good for my safety and sanity.


the kind of gaze that makes you forget your own name
yes, i am a really, ridiculously handsome man
... and sharp-dressed, which i am told the ladies enjoy 
everyone has to take their shirt off sometime
don't mind if i do...

on an unrelated, slightly creepy note, i noticed that every single man i've featured here has been eliminated from the cup. it's like being selected is some sort of weird curse, in which case maybe you'd be better off putting your bets on brazil? i just hope it's not another broken back situation. i'm starting to feel guilty.

Comments

Don't be silly Kate, there's no such curse! Germany won and thrashed Brazil real good.

Haha so continue on with man candy posts. They're gold!
Kate MacDonald said…
Indeed, handsome Mats has lived to fight another day. And we're all happy to see more of him...

as long as you're here, why not read more?

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