I love the World Cup. Football all day for weeks on end, players from all over the planet—the greats, the unknowns—thrown in together, each one hoping to get their moment in the spotlight. Amazing victories, drama, tragedy, high stakes games, athletic prowess on full display? It’s amazing.
At the same time… I hate the World Cup. Or, more specifically, I hate this World Cup. I wasn’t too keen on the last one in Russia, either, but this year’s is troublesome for a range of reasons, not least because Fifa’s corrupt decision to award it to Qatar back in 2010 was one of the early salvoes in the current era of sportwashing by problematic regimes. (Believe me, as a Chelsea fan, I’m very well aware that we basically fired the starting pistol on all of that.) And as well as the human rights and labor issues, there’s so much that’s weird about this year’s competition—taking place in the winter, mid-season, many big names missing because of small injuries, teams lacking preparation, and all held essentially in a single city.
But still, for all its problems, I love the World Cup.
I also love food. Eating it, making it, thinking about it. I don’t mean that I love fancy restaurants or celebrity chefs—honestly, that’s all a bit much. I just love grub. We’re lucky that San Francisco has a vibrant food culture, reflecting the wide array of immigrant cultures here in the Bay Area.
So I thought: why not bring these two together?
So here it is, my World Cup of Food (Bay Area edition.)
The challenge is this: Between the opening game of the World Cup on November 20 and the final on December 18, I plan on eating a dish or meal from every country taking part in the competition. That’s 32 teams across 29 days.
Many countries are easy. USA! Mexico! I live in California, come on. Some cuisines are very common, like Japanese and French. And I’m English, so that one’s easy to cover.
But there are a few tough options. Who serves genuine Qatari and Saudi Arabian cuisine? What places can dish up Croatian and Serbian food? Where are the good Ghanaian meals, as opposed to generic West African? If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.
While I’m prepared to do some cooking at home, hopefully this will give me a chance to explore some new foods, go to some new locations, and maybe meet some interesting people along the way.
I’ll keep this page updated with new additions as we go along.
Bobbie’s World Cup of Food (Bay Area edition)
Group A: Ecuador, Netherlands, Qatar, Senegal
Group B: England, Iran, United States, Wales
Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia
Group D: Australia, Denmark, France, Tunisia
Group E: Costa Rica, Germany, Japan, Spain
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Morocco
Group G: Brazil, Cameroon, Serbia, Switzerland
Group H: Ghana, Portugal, South Korea, Uruguay