Just like going to the cinema, choice in accompanying snack is critical to any sports viewing experience. So here’s a couple of classic national dishes from the two competitors in first round of 2014 World Cup semifinals. Bretzels from Germany, and a Moqueca de Piexe (Brazilian Fish Stew).
I would like to now talk about players and game play but the extent of our football knowledge comprises game watching, beers and the occasional name dropping of soccer dream boats, so I’ve asked good friend and avid fan @RMTurner75 for his take on the upcoming semis/ match 1:
The group games of this fine world cup started and finished with a bang, the knock out phase had less goals, but arguably more tension.
Lots of late action but not really any surprises.
Colombian hearts were broken by an aggressive and hard tackling Brazil. Maybe the game of the tournament for sheer madness, it featured a foul every two minutes, along with another amazing James Rodriguez display, his penalty (Golden boot contender still??) put the fear into 200 million Brazilians, with a massive green grasshopper hitching a ride on his sleeve.
In case you don’t live on earth, Neymar – the best Brazilian player by a long shot has a fractured vertebrae and will miss the rest of the tournament. A massive blow to Brazil, who have looked good, but certainly not great. The highlight for Brazil in this game was David Luiz free kick, it looped, dipped swerved and dipped again. Some are saying the best world cup free kick ever.
So, we’re down to the final four: Brazil, Germany, Argentina, The Netherlands.
Most would say, with the exception of the disappointing Spain, these are the semi-finals we had to have.
It’s an interesting scenario that its Europe against South America. Remember that no European team has ever won the World Cup on South American soil.
Brazil vs Germany… The entire country will be willing the Selecao on, to win for Neymar, to make up for the ‘National trauma of 1950’ when they were beaten in the final by Uruguay. Germany have been solid and must be the favourites to win the World Cup. The pragmatists favourite. The Germans will take care of Brazil, and break those 200 million hearts. Brazil haven’t won pretty, but they have made the semi-finals of their own tournament relying on Neymar. Brazil may have run out of ideas, unless they kick and bully their way past an unflappable Nationalmannschaft (seriously the best and maybe scariest nickname in football). The Germans should prove too strong across the park. I predict a 2-0 victory.
The Final, Germany vs Argentina at the Maracana!
The Bretzels are a definite labour of love, but once you bite into the deeply golden chewy knot of yeasty goodness you will appreciate all of the 6+ hours invested in making them. This stalpe German snack/ street food is like bagel-pretzel fusion (linguistically I don’t think this is the route but just a strange coincidence). Eaten warm or cold, plain, buttered or filled with cold cut meats and cheese, but absolutely topped with salt crystals, they can be teamed with a stein and enjoyed at any time of the day. This makes them a hot contender for snack of choice for your World Cup Semi Final Round 1. Note their versatility in to also be worn around the neck.
It’s in allowing the dough mixture to prove that gives the Bretzel its yeasty flavour, toted as one of its qualities and distinguishing features… It’s relieving to find that Eastern Europe is not afraid of a little gluten-enriched/ yeast-fueled/ cooked food. The other key characteristic – a chewy crust – is achieved through the Maillard reaction that takes place when the dough knots are dumped into the boiling soda bath, and the air drying that happens just before this. It seems an outlandish/ extravagant step, but combined with the 16 minute cooking time the Germans have really nailed the details.
(Thanks to BBC for this recipe!)
Makes about 20
For The Dough
- 1 kg Plain White Flour (around 9 – 12 % protein)
- 260 ml milk (lukewarm)
- 260 ml water (lukewarm)
- 80 g Butter (unsalted)
- 1 tbsp malt extract (liquid or dried, or brown sugar or treacle)
- 2 tsp fast action dried yeast (or 42g fresh if using)
- 2 tbsp Salt (unrefined)
For The Finishing Solution
- 1 L Water
- 3 tbsp Baking Soda (or lye if your using it)
- Unrefined salt (Rock/ sea salt)
Add 100g of flour flour, all the yeast and the water into a bowl. Mix, cover with cling-film and leave in a warm place for 5 hours + to create the yeast flavour. After that, add the rest of the flour, salt, milk, malt extract and melted butter. Mix and kneed the mixture to make a firm dough (around 10 minutes) and leave for approx 1 and a half hours or until a point pushed in gentle springs back.
When ready, knock the dough back and start forming shapes. The easiest is to make batons around 2cm thick. If feeling adventurous, try the traditional shape. Roll the dough out to be a long (40 cm) rope with the middle 5cm bulged to a diameter of around 3 cm, tapering to the ends being around 0.75 cm thick. Bring the two ends together about 5 cm in, overlap them, twist, and bring back to go over the main body. Almost like tying a knot. Leave for 30 minutes uncovered in a warm room to rise and develop.
In the meantime heat oven to 200C and bring the 1.5 litres of water to the boil in a large pot (around 20cm diameter) and add the baking soda.
Once the dough has risen, place the trays next to a cold window with some wind blowing. A fan (or hair dryer on cold setting as in my case) can be used if there is no breeze. This develops a skin on the pretzels which gives that special chewy texture.
Once done drop the shaped dough into the boiling solution (one at a time) until they float (about 5 second), fish out with a fish slice (or similar) and lay on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with sea salt and slash the dough to a depth of around 1cm in the thick part at the top-back.
Add the baking sheets to the oven for around 16 minutes, until a nice deep bready brown is seen on the pretzels. Don’t go for gold or chestnut, go for brown, the flavour goes with it!
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
Moqueca de Piexe (moo-KAY-ka duh PAY-shuh) is a traditional Brazilian seafood stew version hailing from the coastal Brazilian state of Bahia. It’s a little more on the rough and ready side of things, so you’ll only need about 30 minutes to get this one going. Bound by a harmony of the smooth, rounding flavours of coconut milk, a little acid and savoury depth of tomatoes, acid of lime to cut through and the sweet oceanic softness of fish, this dish is super fresh and able to be mopped up with rice/ bread/ your choice in starch. The perfect accompaniment to caprahinas and goal scoring.
Moqueca de Piexe
500g thick, firm, white fish cut into 3cm cubes or prawns, or a mixture
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 long red chillies, chopped or 1 short 1 green capsicum, thinly sliced 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
1 can tomatoes (or 4 chopped fresh)
500 ml fish or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 bunch coriander, chopped, plus extra, to serve
Limes, to serve
Combine fish, lime juice, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl. Toss set to combine and set aside in a shallow dish for 30 minutes to marinate, turning after 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers cook 3-4 minutes. Add ginger and coriander and sauté for 2 minutes. Increase heat to high, add stock, tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and oil and simmer for 3 minutes. Add fish mixture and cook 5 minutes or until fish is just cooked.
Sprinkle over coriander leaves and spring onions and serve with lime wedges.