Food World Cup

The Food World Cup: The Best Cuisines Go Head-to-Head

To celebrate the World Cup we’re playing our own version. Naturally, it’s all about food, so the Food World Cup is very simple. We’ll choose the standout dish from the cuisine of each participating country, score them based on a few foodie factors and at the end there’ll be one winner. As we said, it’s all about the food, so these aren’t predictions as to who’ll win the actual football. As we get started with the group stage, remember you can use the sidebar to check out restaurants in London or near you where you can eat all the Food World Cup winning cuisines!

Let the Food World Cup begin!

GROUP A

Russia – Beef Stroganoff

Sauteed beef done with a smetana (sour cream) sauce, beef Stroganoff is popular around the world and often varies a lot from the Russian original. Still, the original is best and has to be Russia’s standout dish.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 3/3 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 9/15

Saudi Arabia – Shakshuka

Another that’s world-famous and often varies a lot from the original, a Saudi shakshuka is based around poached egg in tomato sauce and can include everything from chilli to broad beans and artichoke hearts.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 10/15

Egypt – Kushari

Kushari is an absolute carb hit consisting of rice, spaghetti, small macaroni, vermicelli and lentils, often topped with tomato sauce, garlic, vinegar and hummus. A bit of a strange one but certainly worth a try

Taste: 2/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 6/15

Uruguay – Chivito

Chivito is a essentially a high-quality steak sandwich filled with a mountain of ingredients. Sliced steak with aioli, olive oil, pancetta, spiced egg, fresh salad and sprinkled with coarse salt. Simple yet ridiculously satisfying.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 11/15

GROUP A WINNER: URUGUAY

Food World Cup
Not just any old sandwich. This is Chivito! Source: Shutterstock

GROUP B

Portugal – Bacalhau a Bras

Portuguese cuisine is famous for fish and seafood and maybe the most common variation is bacalhau, dried and salted cod. Bacalhau a Bras is shredded cod with onions and fried potato, all bound together with scrambled egg. Delightful.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 9/15

Spain – Paella

For many, paella is the symbol of the Spanish kitchen so Spain would be happy having it represent them at the Food World Cup. Cooked with saffron and including just about anything you want it to, paella is bold, big and beautiful.

Taste: 5/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 13/15

Morocco – Tagine

Named after the pot in which it’s slow cooked, tagine is a Moroccan and North African stew that’s absolutely booming with flavour thanks to spiced meat and veggies. It’s pretty hard not to love and is also world-famous.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 10/15

Iran – Chelo kabab

Chelo kabab is simple and tasty, but doesn’t score too high in terms of presentation or nutrition. The dish is often a bed of fluffy saffron rice served with skewered kebab meat and whole tomatoes. It’s actually really satisfying, but Iran just drew a difficult group here.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 7/15

GROUP B WINNER: SPAIN

Food World Cup
Vibrant paella in the traditional pan. Source: Shutterstock

GROUP C

France – Coq au vin

We could have picked one of several dishes to represent France, but coq au vin is a solid competitor owing to the flavour that comes from such glorious simplicity. Chicken braised with wine, lardons, mushrooms and maybe some garlic. Extremely satisfying each and every time.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 10/15

Australia – Salt & pepper squid

Quality fish and seafood is everywhere in Australia so plenty of Australians would put salt & pepper squid forward as their national dish. It’s squid tossed and shallow fried in flour, pepper, salt and chilli. Quite the flavour kick.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 9/15

Peru – Ceviche

Considered by some to be the dish of South America, ceviche is massive in Peru and therefore a worthy Food World Cup contender. It’s essentially a spicy, raw fish salad with salt, garlic, onions and hot Peruvian peppers, all mixed together and marinated in lime.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 11/15

Denmark – Crispy pork with parsley sauce

This dish was once actually voted for by Danes as Denmark’s national dish. It’s remarkably simple and consists of pork belly, cut into thin slices and served with potatoes and parsley sauce. Easy.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 9/15

GROUP C WINNER: PERU

Food World Cup
Look at all that colour. Lucky you, Peru. Source: Shutterstock

GROUP D

Argentina – Asado

This Argentine barbecue isn’t just a dish, it’s an entire social event and a very traditional one at that. An asado usually consists of beef, sausages and sometimes other meats which are cooked on a grill called a parrilla. Meat sweats guaranteed.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 8/15

Iceland – Fermented shark

Maybe one of the most notorious national dishes in this article, Icelandic fermented shark is famous for its, erm, questionable taste and smell. It’s cured to survive the harsh Icelandic winters, of course, but it’s one of those you try once then probably never eat again.

Taste: 1/5 Looks: 1/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 5/15

Croatia – Black risotto

Every seafood restaurant in Croatia will have black risotto, or <i>crni rizot</i> on its menu. Here, squid ink colours the rice completely black, as it does the mussels, clams or other shellfish involved. It also turns your mouth completely black, so not the best for date night.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 1/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 8/15

Nigeria – Jollof rice

Common in much of West Africa but specifically in Nigeria, jollof rice is immensely satisfying. It’s a one-pot affair so the ingredients vary a lot, but common ones include okra, chicken, peppers, plenty of chilli, ginger, garlic, etc. Jollof rice is sure to be a hit no matter the occasion.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 11/15

GROUP D WINNER: NIGERIA

Food World Cup
Ever seen more soulful food than that? Source: Shutterstock

GROUP E

Brazil – Feijoada

Prepared in a thick clay pot, Brazilian feijoada is made with black beans and fresh or sometimes salted pork, then at least two different types of sausage served on the side alongside plenty of rice. It’s thick, it’s rich, it’s magnificent.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 12/15

Switzerland – Fondue

Probably one of the first things people think of when Switzerland is mentioned in conversation, everyone is a fan of fondue. It’s a big old helping of melted cheese served in a communal pot and eaten with dipping bread on long forks. To die for, but not particularly good for you.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 1/5 Nutrition: 1/5 Total Score: 6/15

Costa Rica – Gallo pinto

If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica you’ll know what a big deal gallo pinto is, black beans fried together rice and all things nice, often served with two fried eggs. It’s sometimes referred to as the <i>spotted rooster</i> owing to the way the ingredients give a very colourful, speckled look to the dish. Big win.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 11/15

Serbia – Karađorđeva šnicla

Named after the Serbian Prince Karađorđe, this schnitzel is a rolled veal or pork steak stuffed with kajmak and then breaded and fried. More often than not it’s served with roasted potatoes and tartar sauce. A bit of a curious combination, we know, but pretty tasty.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 7/15

GROUP E WINNER: BRAZIL

Food World Cup
The food of Brazil: feijoada. Source: Shutterstock

GROUP F

Germany – Schweinshaxe

Schweinshaxe is a large pork knuckle roasted until crispy on the outside and fork tender on the inside. Often served with red cabbage and roasted or fried potatoes, this is one of a few dishes that Germans might call their national dish. A heart attack waiting to happen.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 1/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 6/15

Mexico – Mole tacos

Mole (pronounced mo-lay) sauce drizzled on top of a traditional taco is without doubt the national dish of Mexico. Known all over the world, these soft corn shells filled to the brim score very highly indeed.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 12/15

Sweden – Pickled herring

The North and Baltic Seas are full of herring so the Swedes take full advantage. They’ve been pickling it with various flavours for hundreds of years and it remains the centrepiece of any Swedish buffet or, if you’re local, any smorgasbord.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 9/15

South Korea – Kimchi

More of a side dish but undeniably the food of South Korea, kimchi consists of salted and fermented veggies – more often than not napa cabbage. Kimchi is eaten with pretty much any meal in South Korea and is seasoned with everything from chilli and garlic to scallions.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 5/5 Total Score: 11/15

GROUP F WINNER: MEXICO

Food World Cup
Who doesn’t love tacos? Source: Shutterstock

GROUP G

Belgium – Moules frites

We’re pushed to think of too many better combinations in the world than fresh mussels and fries, which is why moules frites is one of our favourites. The indulgence of mussels in that white sauce paired with the guilt of the fries. Perfect.

Taste: 5/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 3/5 Total Score: 12/15

Panama – Sancocho

Popular all across Central America but particularly in Panama, Sancocho is a essentially a thick soup consisting of meat and root veggies. It’s wholesome and soothing but, to be fair, not particularly adventurous in terms of presentation.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 9/15

Tunisia – Couscous

Traditionally served with some kind of stew poured over the top, Tunisia goes wild for couscous. Little steamed balls of crushed durum wheat semolina that go with just about anything but aren’t that nutritious in the way that brown rice is, for example.

Taste: 3/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 2/5 Total Score: 8/15

England – Roast beef dinner

Yeah, we know, what about fish and chips? But few in England could deny a proper roast beef dinner makes them feel right at home. Served on a Sunday as a mountain of roasted vegetables, roast potatoes, beef and more trimmings than will fit, things don’t get much more English than this.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 11/15

GROUP G WINNER: BELGIUM

Food World Cup
A combination descended from heaven. Source: Shutterstock

GROUP H

Poland – Bigos

Also known as hunter’s stew, bigos is an acquired taste but still a must-try dish if you’re visiting Poland. It’s basically sauerkraut stewed with chopped sausage, mushrooms and onion and then eaten with rye bread or potatoes. A true people’s national dish.

Taste: 1/5 Looks: 2/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 7/15

Senegal – Thiebou jen

The national dish of Senegal is a spicy stuffed fish simmered with vegetables in tomato paste, tamarind and habanero pepper and then served over broken rice. It’s a complete flavour fest and maybe our favourite African representatives at the Food World Cup.

Taste: 5/5 Looks: 3/5 Nutrition: 4/5 Total Score: 12/15

Colombia – Bandeja Paisa

Traditionally from the Paisa region of Colombia but definitely considered to be one of a few Colombian national dishes, Bandeja Paisa is heck of a lot of variation on one plate. At its most basic it packs white rice, red beans, ground beef, plantain, chorizo, morcilla, chicharron, arepa, avocado and a fried egg. Damn.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 4/5 Nutrition: 5/5 Total Score: 13/15

Japan – Sushi

Sushi (along with sashimi, maki, etc.) is unquestionably the national dish of Japan and one that’s mighty popular across Europe and North America as well. Vinegared sushi rice combined with seafood, vegetables and occasionally tropical fruits mean this dish ticks plenty of boxes. And it’s also highly addictive, which always helps.

Taste: 4/5 Looks: 5/5 Nutrition: 5/5 Total Score: 14/15

GROUP H WINNER: JAPAN

Food World Cup
Sushi. ‘Nuff said. Source: Shutterstock

Go check out the Food World Cup group winners!

That’s that, folks, the Food World Cup winners for the group stage. You can find restaurants in London or near you to eat the winning cuisines right now, then check back here in a few weeks when the winning dishes from the group stage will go head-to-head once again!

Nathaniel Kershaw

Nathaniel Kershaw

Nathaniel studied in the UK, now writes for Quisine and has eaten pie in over 15 countries.

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