Brazil 2014: The Delicious Game – Portugal edition
The Delicious Game is back! Contributor Anu Lakhan is your guide to the puzzling culinary traditions of Portugal…
The Portuguese have taken 441 lbs of cod to Brazil.
My interest in the nation of Portugal has been on medium heat for as long as the four days since I was offered this spot. It turns out I might foster this enthrallment for four years and end up in the same place: they can’t be trusted.
You need consider only two matters to come to this conclusion:
1. They have good steak, special caviar, an affinity for eggs, top-drawer seafood, and all good porcine things. And what do they devote themselves to? Salted cod.
2. They have a fine history of naval expeditions and once curated a nice collection of colonies (including the World Cup host country). And what do they devote themselves to? Cristiano Ronaldo.
Up to press time, they find themselves at the bottom of their group. I have no sympathy.
[Editor’s note: What’s this all about? Catch up with the first installment of the Delicious Game here.]
In 1500, Pedro Cabral, one of those acquisitive maritime types so popular around then, found Brazil. Did he want Brazil? Did he want, really, pretty much the entire South American continent he is credited with happening upon? Not especially. Like all the cool kids, he was looking for India.
Roll forward five hundred and fourteen years, five months and a handful of days. The Portuguese make to lay claim to Brazil again. Do they land, and with arms outstretched declare: Here we are! Here’s the good sangria! We bring pig draped in clams, Madeira-infused cake, cozido à Portuguesa (a stew so full of beef and sausage the heart burns just to think of it)! Is that what they do? No. Again with the bacalhau: salted cod.
Thanks Portugal. Maybe a fruit basket next time.
No. None of this is fair. It makes it sound like the bacalhau was brought for someone other than themselves. To taunt the other participating countries and host alike with the promise of what could have been: the sheep cheeses, the port, gazpacho, desserts sighing with vanilla and cinnamon, figs and almonds.
But of this they are not culpable. They do not care to inspire envy; they just want to be prepared – to have enough salted fish so they can fix it in any of the 365 ways they say they can do it.
A note on piri-piri chicken: it’s only sort of Portuguese. You, fellow football disciple, you have heard of this spicy fowl, beloved of the European soccer professional in a manner rivaled only by tattoo parlors and PlayStations.
You have heard of the magical place known as Nando’s, where the poultry sizzles and the masses – great and humble – tumble in to gorge themselves on what the western world calls “spicy”. The piri-piri pepper responsible for the flavor is actually South African by birth but seems to have accepted its transfer with grace.
It’s said that when the Portuguese first wandered on to the Brazilian shores they found a population of about seven million people. The civilization was well-established and cannibalism was quite acceptable.
This is my thinking: if after all these years the Portuguese have turned up again with nothing but salted cod, eat one of the players.
OTF’s recommended gameday tailgate:
Get more of OTF Soccer’s World Cup 2014 coverage right here – and follow us @OTFSoccer
Anu Lakhan is too busy fielding complaints from the cod industry to be on Twitter.