Brazilian Bites and German Wurst: Traditional Eats for the World Cup Semifinals
Queijo coalho, a salty cheese produced in northeastern Brazil -- now at Sushi Samba Dromo for World Cup snacking.
Photo by Dana De Greff
For fans who have been following the 2014 World Cup, this is the last week to savor the glory, drama, and mayhem of all things fútbol. And what better way to do that than with some authentic bites from each country? Whether you're rooting for Brazil or Germany, we've got you covered for today's 4 p.m. match.
Pestiscos, or bar snacks, in Rio de Janeiro reign supreme. And though the options are plentiful, perhaps the most beloved fits into the palm of your hand: the bolinho.
Deep-fried and usually served in multiples, bolinhos come in a 1,001 versions, the most common being the bolinho de bacalhau, or salt-cod fritter. Traditional versions use a masa of potatoes, onions, egg yolks, garlic, and parsley, which is formed into small balls and plopped into a vat of bubbling oil.
At Sushi Samba Dromo, chef Cesar Vega has put his own spin on the fried classic. His masa includes rice, manchego cheese, egg, flour, and spices, which are first baked and then fried to order. "What we wanted to do is get [Brazilian] street food and infuse it with sea bass, which is much more flavorful than cod," Vega says. "The idea is to have something you can sit down and enjoy while watching the World Cup games."
Light and crisp, the bolinhos ($7) are served with a creamy catupiry-cheese-infused huacatay (Peruvian black mint) sauce. They're bite-size, shareable, and highly addictive. If that isn't enough Brazilian food for you, you're in luck: Vega will also serve queijo coalho ($7), a firm, slightly acidic and salty cheese produced in northeastern Brazil. In the streets of Brazil, you'll find the cheese skewered and seared on a charcoal grill -- at Sushi Samba, it's seared on a flat grill and served with chimichurri.
Courtesy Sushi Samba
Depending upon Brazil's outcome, you may want to celebrate or indulge in an order of brigadeiros ($7), traditional Brazilian truffle-esque chocolates that are as decadent as Neymar's newest hairdo.
Courtesy Fritz & Franz Bierhaus via Facebook
Germans take their wurst very, very seriously, and the best place to start your culinary journey (or the only place, depending upon whom you talk to) is with currywurst.
Currywurst is as German as bolinhos are Brazilian, ratatouille is French, and hot dogs are American. Like many of the best dishes, it's deceivingly simple fare, and no two Germans will agree on the perfect version: Some like it with a dash of mustard powder, others with sweet Indian curry, and some with hot chili for a fiery kick. In terms of carbs, any type will do, from white bread to a whole-grain loaf.
Currywurst is so emblematic of German culture that there's even a museum dedicated to the food: the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin. The museum traces currywurst back to postwar Berlin in 1949, when it was known as the "poor man's steak" because most Germans couldn't afford to purchase meat.
While exotic spices like curry were hard to come by, according to legend, a sharp German housewife named Herta Heuwer bartered with British soldiers for a bit of English curry. She experimented in the kitchen and came up with her signature version: sliced, grilled sausages with a gravy-like sauce of English curry and stewed tomatoes.
At Fritz & Franz Bierhaus, you can pay homage to Herta Heuwer and Germany with a plate of the restaurant's take on currywurst. For game day you can get one for $6 or two for $10. Enjoy the match (if your nerves allow it) and savor the smoked grilled beef bratwurst topped with ketchup-flavored curry and fresh onions, all served on a French baguette.
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