Food and Football at Euro 2012
Thousands of football fans have travelled to Poland and Ukraine for this year’s UEFA European Championships, hoping to be thrilled and inspired by the football skills on offer, while staying in the ‘Host Cities’ of Krakow, Kiev, Donetsk, Gdansk, Poznan, Lviv, Wroclaw and Kharkiv. Whilst Ukraine’s Capital of Kiev is notable for its internationally famous Baroque and Orthodox architecture and its green, hilly terrain, many of the other host cities have been transformed by the tournament, with little expense spared replacing old Communist buildings with new infrastructure.
These tournaments are about much more than simply the sport on show. They are about bringing communities together, building international relationships, and creating an unforgettable experience for all involved. It is not simply a celebration of football, it is a celebration of culture; heritage; people; it is a celebration of life.
What better way to celebrate, then, than by serving up some classic Polish and Ukrainian food dishes? Being such an intrinsic part of a people’s culture, perhaps one of the most important part of a country’s heritage is the food it offers the world.
At the heart of Polish cuisine you’ll find meats such as pork, chicken and beef. Winter vegetables, in particular cabbage and beetroot, are popular and spices such as paprika are widely used. Rather than pasta or rice, dishes are usually accompanied by potatoes, noodles and dumplings – the most notable of which are kluski, which are added to soups and stews. Polish food tends to be hearty, filling and rich, due to its plentiful use of eggs and cream, especially sour cream.
The traditional cuisine in the Ukraine has some similarities to Polish food, but the main difference is the inclusion of more fish. Common foods used in Ukrainian cooking include meat, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits, berries and herbs. There are also many different varieties of bread; meaning that Ukraine is often referred to as the ‘Breadbasket of Europe’.
One valuable lesson to be learned from Eastern European cooking is that many people still cook from scratch. The people who cook here have total control over what goes into their food, making it healthier and also cutting down on food wastage. Rather than reaching for the processed food that others might, chefs will search out the best locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re following the tournament, we’ve compiled a list of food to ‘go with’ each of the teams competing, enjoy!
- Ukraine - ‘Chicken a la Kiev’ – Stuffed boneless chicken breast pounded & rolled around in butter with herbs, then breaded with golden crumbs and pan fried.
- Russia – ‘Beef Stroganoff’ – The classic Russian sautéd pieces of beef in sour cream served with rice.
- Portugal – ‘Peri Peri Chicken’- Grilled chicken breast served with delicious Peri Peri sauce.
- Spain – ‘Valencian Paella’ – safffron infused Spanish rice topped with a medley of fresh seafood & a hint of olive oil.
- England – ‘Fish & Chips’ – The classic friday night dinner for many, Batterd fresh fish, deep fried & servied with potato fries.
- Poland – ‘Potato Dumplings (Kopytka)’ – Cooked in salted water, served baked with cheese, fried minced meat & onions.
- The Netherlands – ‘Celeriac Mash (Knolselderijstamppot)’ – Hearty vegetable mash, usually made of potatoes and/or other vegetables. Traditionally served with a smoked pork sausage and gravy.
- Italy – ‘Spaghetti Alla Carbonara’ – Classic Italian pasta dish served with bacon, parmesan cheese and black pepper.
- Greece - ‘Moussaka’ – Sautéed aubergine and tomato with beef ragout layers, topped with béchamel sauce, baked.
- Denmark – ‘The Open Sandwich’ – (See our previous post here)
- Ireland - ‘Shepard’s Pie’ – The famous Irish pie layered with mashed potatoes & soft meat, served on a mashed potato crust.
- France – ‘Croque Monsieur’ – Melted Emmental cheese with ham & Dijon mustard on a toasted baguette.
- Czech Republic – ‘Potato Pancake (Latkes)’ – Fresh ground potatoes, flour & eggs, flavoured with grated onion or garlic seasoning.
- Germany – ‘Frankfurter Hotdogs’ – The famous German sausage served in a sliced bun, garnished with mustard, ketchup, onions.
- Croatia - ‘Beef Goulash’ – Aromatic stew of meat, noodles & vegetables, seasoned with paprika & zest of lemon, served with rice.
- Sweden – ‘Meat Balls’ – Tenderly small ground beef balls with breadcrumbs, goes brilliantly with gravy, boiled potatoes & fresh pickled cucumber.
Did You Know?
This year, a friendly ferret named Fred has been ‘predicting’ the winners of each game. He chooses between two bowls of fresh beef to make his prediction, with each dish featuring a flag of the teams playing. You can see him in action in the below video!
Images (in order from top to bottom) by alun.agius (Flickr), Wellsie82 (Flickr), rafizeldi (Flickr), travelwithnate (Flickr) and www.aspirantsg.com