After months of waiting, it’s finally here. Football fans around the world can at last gather round televisions to watch a tournament hosted by a dictator, organised by the global experts in corruption, and played in a country that keeps poisoning people who disagree with them. Has the FIFA World Cup ever been so exciting?!
Of course, given the press surrounding the Russian tournament, it seems far more sensible to stay and watch in the comfort of your own home. In which case, getting your food right will be absolutely crucial. If the World Cup is about anything it’s about bringing people together, so to help your menu reflect this, here is a selection of strange snacks from the competing nations. No matter how boring the game, these are guaranteed to spice up any social occasion.
Where else to begin but with the host nation. For your foodie centrepiece, you’re going to need something bold, eye catching, unusual and a real celebration of Russian cultural identity and history. We suggest going with the traditional “herring under a fur coat”, or “shuba”. Finely chopped eggs, beets, pickled herring and dressing are layered on top of one another in one of the more striking salads you’re likely to see. Eat up.
While no party is complete without fried chicken, there’s no reason why you should stop at poultry. Anyone wishing to push the boat out should turn to Peru for some finger food inspiration. A portion of deep fried guinea pig - a delicacy in the South American nation - will make for an awesome nibble for your grateful guests.
3. South Korea
Seafood doesn’t usually feature at a dinner party, but with this being the World Cup, no host wants to settle for normality. As a lighter way to kick off the culinary entertainment, we advise procuring a live octopus and serving san-nakji. This playful dish features raw tentacles cut from a still-living octopus that continue to wriggle and writhe on the plate as you eat them. One for the foodie purists
To pair with the subtle taste of South Korea, we suggest serving something a little bolder. To make a seafood statement, you can always call on your Icelandic colleagues to bring round a portion of hakarl - fermented Greenland shark that is rumoured to smell so potent that it can make the weak of stomach retch from several hundred metres away. Warm up with a thunderclap and tuck in.
If tensions are high and you feel the need to chew someone’s ear off, we have the perfect side dish. Spanish “oreja de la plancha”, or grilled pigs ears are considered a delicacy in Madrid and are traditionally served crispy, with a tomatoey bravas sauce and an ice cold beer. Perfect footie fare.
Though you’re bound to be feeling full after this footballing feast, any self respecting guest will still have room for dessert. To provide the perfect palate cleanser, we suggest providing a portion of taiyaki - sweetened bean cakes presented in the shape of fish. Usually filled with red bean paste, this is one pud guaranteed to get guests talking.
All too often at big sporting events, food gets forgotten in favour of the main event. But, as these dishes clearly prove, this would be a real shame. Given all the delicious international delicacies that you could be missing out on, it makes sense to make this tournament a real food-fest.