In celebration of the start of Euro 2008 – the European soccer/football championships – yesterday, and in light of the fact that England failed to qualify because they were awful, I am in need of a team to follow, so have decided to become an honorary Spanish soccer fan for the next month, or however long it takes for them to get knocked out.
The reason for this, you see (and yes, I’ll get to something actually food-related soon, so please be patient), is not just because I love Spain and am fascinated by nearly all things Spanish, it is also because historically, the Spanish team has always been long on potential but very short on delivery. And as an English football fan, I can appreciate this complex psychology of pitting hope against realistic expectations, and the likelihood of some great moments followed by the depths of despair.
So, to get into the spirit, I decided to watch the opening games of the tournament (neither of which actually featured Spain – they don’t play until Tuesday against Russia, but I’ll be at work then) with a couple of cold beers and, fittingly, a “seleccion de pintxos/pinchos” (small tapas on rounds of bread and often eaten off a toothpick) – the Spanish national team are known as “La Seleccion.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I found that this is the perfect kind of sports-watching food. It’s easy and cheap to make, with four or five ingredients plus a couple of staples from your fridge, you can make a variety of pinchos to suit the tastes of any friends you’re watching it with, and best of all, they are much, much healthier than the conventional bags of chips and salsa, cheetos, or miscellaneous frozen things with dip. This last one is important, because should your team lose, disappointment and self-loathing will be all because of the game, not the snacks!
These pinchos were made from, variously: manchego cheese, piquillo peppers stuffed with meat and cheese, cured anchovies, lettuce, lemon peel, leftover morcilla stuffed-squid, grilled Spanish mackerel, capers, olives, and the very wonderful thing that is leftover Rioja-style chorizo and potatoes (a dish Paul Bocuse declared to be one of the greatest dishes created by man).
You should give sports and pinchos a try, they really are a “match” made in heaven.
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