Friday, 18 June 2010

World Cup - 1st Round

photo, courtesy Wikipedia

So here we go – let battle commence for the Foodie World Cup. From 32 teams, we are looking for 16 qualifiers for the knockout stages. The group stages are where the less fancied teams could spring a shock but the league format usually sees the big boys qualify.

Group A – 1st France 2nd S.Africa
It's a no-brainer that France storms this group but second place is wide open. In the end, South Africa prevail, as home advantage should never be underestimated especially as Mexican food doesn't travel well. A friend of mine did extol Uruguay's virtues but he didn't come up with enough specific details to convince me.

Group B – 1st S.Korea 2nd Argentina
The 'group of death' is a glib cliché often used by sports commentators but in this case, it's very apt. You've really got to feel for Greece, as it's more than likely that they would've qualified from any other group. As it is they fall at the first hurdle with South Korea emerging as group winners closely followed by Argentina's muscular steak based team. Nigeria finishes a distant last.

Group C – 1st England 2nd USA
This group was another close one with Algeria's brave team nearly edging out the USA (everyone raises their games against Uncle Sam). This group was so close that it was decided on goal difference (yes – I am making this up as I go along). And it was England that shocked the foodie world by topping this group following some magnificent performances, in particular a thrilling draw against the USA (last minute equaliser by Birmingham's Balti). Slovenia just couldn't quite handle the food at this level.

Group D – 1st Australia 2nd Germany
Australia run away with this group, their mix of surf and turf with multicultural influences was just too strong for the likes of Germany, Serbia, and Ghana. Second place was wide open and Germany emerged not because their food was any good but because it's a World Cup and they always qualify for the knockout stages.

Group E – 1st Japan 2nd Denmark
As one of the pre-tournament favourites, Japan saunter through this group. Denmark is said to have the best restaurant in the world but they would've qualified from this group anyway as I like Scandinavian grub. That said Holland and Cameroon didn't offer much resistance.

Group F – 1st Italy 2nd New Zealand
As is often the way in major tournaments, Italy start slowly and they claim top spot just ahead of an up and coming New Zealand. Slovakia can be discounted, not least because I was ripped off over a bottle of red wine in Bratislava last year and I don't know much about Paraguay (except that it isn't Uruguay).

Group G – 1st Portugal 2nd Brazil
Portugal and Brazil are the teams competing for first place with the former colonial masters edging it by an egg tart. It's sad that North Korea is closed off to the rest of the world, as this has hindered its culinary development. Ivory Coast's chefs aren't as renowned as their footballers and they bring up the rear.

Group H – 1st Spain 2nd Switzerland
This is one group where food follows football, as Spain would be one of the favourites in both fields and they cruise through this group (unlike their footballers). Second place goes to Switzerland as I've eaten in great restaurants in Zurich. Besides, I'm too busy watching football to research the respective cuisines of Honduras or Chile.

Next Time
No real shocks so far although some might raise an eyebrow at the failure of Mexico. The Greeks and Algerians can also consider themselves unlucky not to qualify when the likes of England, Germany and Switzerland have. For many the World Cup comes to life in the knockout stages. This tournament is no exception and there are some fascinating ties in next Friday's last 16 including France v Argentina, Australia v USA, and England v Germany.


  1. The most interesting game for me will be England v Germany, on a national average basis it will be Walker's Crisps and Little Chef vs pork and cheese

  2. Outrageous - what has SA given the world other than biltong and grape Fanta? And any country that eats dog should be kicked out of the tournament....

  3. Tom - as you may have worked out, I might have fixed the draw to engineer England v Germany - it promises to be a war of stodge.

    Nuf - the Rainbow Nation has a more varied cuisine than you might imagine! On whether the Koreans should be kicked out or not for eating dog, we must consider the moral relativism of what is deemed right and wrong in different cultures. Anyway, good to hear from you mate!

  4. I can't believe you picked South Africa over Mexico! Though I do take your point re the variety of cuisine available there.

    Nuf: Personally I think Australia should be kicked out for drinking Foster's... though I guess that would disqualify England too :)

  5. Kake - I'm sure proper Mexican grub is fantastic but I can't say I've ever had it! I went for S.Africa on the basis that they're playing at home!

    RE: Fosters - the Aussies actually don't drink it much in Oz itself. Mind you the VB that they do favour is pretty rubbish too.

  6. Haha great post!
    Your are right, no one drinks foster here! We also have some really great beers apart from VB lol

  7. 3HT - fair call on Aussie beer. My favourite is Cascade from Tasmania.