The Interview

Making 32 dinners in 32 days is easy right?

I mean, we do it every day, but these particular 32 days coincide with the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, and over the course of the tournament I’ve set myself the challenge of making a meal every day that represents one of the 32 countries playing in the finals.


Why the World Cup?

I’ve loved the World Cup ever since I can remember- though the first World Cup I really remember is USA ‘94. I was 14 years old when the ‘Greatest show on Earth’ took place, and Italy’s Roberto Baggio was the star of the tournament, and my hero, that year.  Brazil won in the end, after what was a pretty dour match, thanks to Baggio’s infamous penalty miss in the shoot-out, but by that point I was hooked on the World Cup anyway.

Since then, every fourth year, I start to get excited around May, as the domestic football season draws to a close, thinking of the upcoming possibilities.


Do you eat a lot of international food?

I had never been abroad until I was 21, a full 7 years after USA ‘94, so when I went to Italy in 1997, the only things I knew about the country were the football teams, and the food. Having lived abroad, and travelled frequently since then, I notice when I think back to countries I’ve visited it’s more often than not about meals I’ve had- meals which seem to take on a greater meaning, and form an association with the place.


How did you come up with the idea of ‘World Cup Dinners’?

I first thought of the idea of ‘World Cup Dinners’ in 2002 when I was travelling around Australia for 12 months. The tournament held was in Japan and South Korea that year, and match times were actually perfect for viewing in Oz, so I saw a lot of the tournament. My mate, Andy, and I would sometimes go for dinner after work, and then catch a match in a pub if there was a decent match on. If Italy were playing we’d grab a pizza, if it was Japan on, we’d go for Sushi, and so on.

 Later, in the summer of 2006, and back in Scotland, I remembered 2002, and thought why not do it again- eat the cuisine of one of the countries playing in a match that day.  My attempts that year faltered somewhat, after fajitas, pizza, and burgers, I ran out of steam, but I thought the potential was there.


And this year you are really going for it?

This year marks my first attempt to actually make World Cup dinners each day, and to record the process. My website- has been a real success, having had over 5000 visits so far from all over the world so far- Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Japan, and loads more besides.


What have been the biggest challenges?

At the set out I broadly wanted to have a meal tie in with a match that’s being played that day, but also to have each of the 32 teams covered. It’s worked so far, but as we head into the knock-out stages, and with so many shocks so far, I may have to juggle my original plans a bit!


Which meals are you most looking forward to?

There are two that I’m most excited to try- Bulgogi, a dish of grilled marinated beef from Korea, and Chivito the sandwich-style national dish of Uruguay that consists of thin-sliced churrasco beef, with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, olives and fried eggs, and ham!

This interview first appeared on on 24 June 2014


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