A World Cup of Gastronomic Proportions: What do winning World Cup countries eat?

World Cup fever has begun. This football (or, ahem, soccer for you know who) tradition already has 92 years behind it, the first one was held in Uruguay in 1930 and has been played every four years since then (with the notable exceptions of 1942 and 1946, which had to be suspended due to World War II). The tournament began with 13 teams and subsequently expanded to 16, then 24 and, currently, 32. The next World Cup in 2026 plans to host 48 teams and will be held among the three North American nations, with Mexico outpacing Italy, France, and Brazil to become the first country to host the men’s tournament three times.


Uruguay may be a small country but they play with class. They were the original champions when the 1930 event took place at home. No doubt all the players were treated to the national dish of chivito, a hearty sandwich consisting of thinly sliced beefsteak, ham, bacon, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, bell pepper, egg, and mayonnaise.

Photo: gastronomia.com.uy


During the 1950 and 2014 tournaments held in Brazil, it was likely that revelers enjoyed feijoada and cachaça. The latter is a drink distilled from fermented sugar cane juice, peculiar in that it is obtained before the sugar crystallizes and not after, as is the case with most rums for which it can substitute, though it is often enjoyed as the Brazilian national cocktail caipirinha. Feijoada has its origins in the slave trade and can be found throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, with most modern variants having been popularized in Brazil. It’s a bean stew to which the slaves would add any meat leftover from the slaveowners, like pig tails, feet, and ears. Nowadays, it is often made with loin, ribs, and other cuts of beef or pork.

Photo: ©BrazilPhotos via Canva.com


The 1934 and 1990 World Cups took place in Italy, a country whose cuisine you probably already know well. But we can still take this opportunity to choose a dish at random and lust over its deliciousness. For example, the very tasty traditional dessert, panna cotta, which means “cooked cream.” It is a type of custard derived from whole milk or cream, thickened with gelatin and sugar into a mold and accompanied by a red fruit coulis. Buonissimo!

Photo: ©hamik via Canva.com


Another culinary and current football powerhouse is, of course, France, who hosted the tournament in 1938 and 1998. Its diversity of players helped pepper the national team to victory in the 2018 World Cup. The same tactics are in play for many of France’s most famous dishes, for example, bœuf bourguignon, which brings together veal, carrots, garlic, onion, and bouquet garni herbs, all simmered in red wine from the Burgundy region to create a winning combination.

Photo: ©Nataly Hanin via Canva.com

South Africa

Finally, we cross the globe again to look at South Africa, who, in 2010, hosted the first and, as yet, only tournament on the African continent. Though the vuvuzela may have been the biggest star at the games, the South African national dish is also famous in its own right. It is called bobotie, and consists of spiced and minced pork and lamb, prepared with ginger, marjoram, lemon, nuts, and an egg topping. Which World Cup would you have liked to attend? Any ideas what you would have eaten there? Which Mexican delights should we showcase when it’s our turn to host again?

Photo: recipes.asda.com

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