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13th Jun 2018

The national dish of every country at the World Cup, ranked from worst to best

Some controversial decisions have been made here, but we stand by them

Ciara Knight

As Dido once sang “…and I want to rank you”

Not sure if you’ve heard but the World Cup is starting tomorrow. Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. They’re going to play football in a bid to find out who’s the best at football, even though there’s usually a different winner every four years, so we’re never really going to establish who’s actually the best at football. Anyway.

Forget about football, what about the food? “Which competing country has the best national dish?”, I hear you asking. Well you can relax immediately because I’m about to tell you.

Behold, the definitive ranking of every 2018 World Cup country’s national dishes, from worst to best.

All decisions are final. Please, I beg you, do not @ me.

32. Iceland – Hákarl

Greenland shark, cured with a fermentation process and then hung out to dry for five months. It’s said to have “a strong Ammonia-rich smell and fishy taste”, which is just about all we need to hear from this one. It’s not exactly a food item any of us are likely to be dying to try. In fact, we could go our whole lives without trying some fermented shark and still be quite happy. Maybe it is delicious, but it’s not essential to find that information out right now. Not in the modern age when we’ve got an abundance of distractions begging for our attention at all times. Not while Candy Crush is still free to play. No thank you, Iceland.


31. South Korea – Kimchi

Vegetables, on the whole, aren’t terrific. They’re fine, they’re good for you and they get the job done. But are they delicious? No. So why would you, South Korea, make vegetables even worse by fermenting them and then making them incredibly spicy? This is a hate crime. They’re not even using the best vegetables, they’re taking cabbage and radishes, then dousing them with chili powder, garlic, scallions, ginger and sometimes even salted seafood. Producing something like this is unforgivable, but to then proudly proclaim it as your national dish is twisted. Get out of my sight, South Korea.


30. Panama – Sancocho

It’s just meaty, corny soup, at the end of the day. Technically it’s a stew/soup hybrid, which consists of meat, tubers and vegetables served in a broth. Truthfully, it’s the large slabs of corn that are the most off-putting aspect of this dish, as you’re going to have to scald your hands taking it out of the bowl to then go at it like a beaver, same with the meat. There’s easier ways to eat soup, meat and vegetables, ideally separately. Panama needs to get a fat grip, this is a nonsense concoction and I forbid it from ever passing through my lips. Ew.


29. Poland – Bigos

Also known as ‘Hunter’s stew’, this monstrosity combines finely chopped meat, stewed with sauerkraut and shredded fresh cabbage. It’s not hugely appetising to look at, nor is the concept of eating lacti- acid-bacteria-fermented cabbage. That’s a complete waste of good meat, in my definitely logical opinion. It’s served hot, which is probably the least disturbing way to consume it, so that’s good. But Poland, you can do better than this. I’d like you to rethink things. A slice of dry toast that’s a day out of date would be a far more palatable national dish than this.


28. Croatia – Zagorski Štrukli

Looks pretty inoffensive, right? Wrong. That’s how they get you. That is not a delicious serving of crumble with cream, it’s actually pastry filled with, please do not barf, eggs, sour cream and salt. They then bake it and serve with clotted cream. Eggs, sour cream and salt. Where on earth is that considered a good combination of food? Croatia, of course. Someone needs to be locked up. This is not a correct means of food preparation. Pastry has never been so insulted. Just make sausage rolls, FFS.


27. Peru – Ceviche

Hope you like raw fish, buddy, because that’s all you’ll be getting in Peru. Ceviche is basically raw fish, lime, lemon, onion and chili pepper. It’s like deconstructed sushi but without the rice. It’s carb-less sushi and I simply won’t have it. Under what circumstance would you ever crave ceviche? After a long, hard day at work? After a 9-hour flight to Peru? After a wild night out where you consumed six beers? No to all of the above. There is simply never an appropriate time for ceviche. Also the above stock image is harrowing. The dead fish are being used to garnish other dead fish.


26. Saudi Arabia – Kabsa

Kabsa is a mixed rice dish with meat, vegetables and a variety of spices. It’s often garnished with almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, cashews, onions and sultanas. Therein lies the problem. Sultanas are a type of fruit, which brings an entirely unnecessary element to the dish, confusing everything and throwing the entire meal into disarray. Sultanas have no business mixing with rice, meat and vegetables. They can be consumed afterwards, sure, but not at the same time. You were so close to being perfect, kabsa. So close. Those sultanas have legitimately turned my stomach.


25. Portugal – Cozido à portuguesa

That’s not even a bad photograph, that’s just what the presentation of this dish looks like across the board. They’ve got a few vegetables, a load of meat and sausages and thrown them all together in a hideous mound. Individually, all of those items are probably delicious, but the way they’ve been lumped together isn’t in any way appetising. I don’t want to eat that, I truly don’t. I might pick at the sausages, but that’s where it ends. Sort it out, Portugal. At least add some garnish. Or alternatively, get some common sense and make custard tarts your national dish.


24. Nigeria – Tuwo Shinkafa

It’s a thick pudding made from rice flour that’s usually served with a goat’s meat stew. Overall, it’s just a bit strange but I’m open to trying it. Unfortunately, goat’s cheese is garbage, so it’s safe to conclude that goat’s meat is also significantly garbage. However, the pudding part is probably delicious, but I can’t tell if it’s sweet or savoury, nor can I work out what the texture is like. Nigeria is scoring a low placement mostly because this dish is quite confusing and I need to physically touch it for a while to get a better gauge of it. Classically, we always fear what we don’t understand. It’s not you, Nigeria, it’s me.


23. Tunisia – Kosksi

Basically it’s couscous with meat, vegetables and spices and it’s just a bit of a hot mess. There’s too much going on, it’s a disaster. A mouthful of couscous is usually more than enough, but this is an entire bowl full, add to that a scattering of chickpeas and so much thickly cut veg. It’s simply too healthy. Where’s the cream? Where’s the giant knob of melting butter? I want to feel my heart rate rapidly increasing as I eat a national dish, not slowing down and becoming more healthy. How very dare you, Tunisia. My life expectancy is not your concern.


22. Brazil – Feijoada

Just a bean, beef and pork stew, innit? No more, no less. Just a stew. Stew Pickles over here. Disco Stew. Sir Patrick Stew-art. It’s a stew. No accompaniment, just a meaty stew with beans. Probably delicious, quite filling and nutritious, but does it accurately represent Brazil? Is Brazil brown and murky with beans floating around it? Not to the best of my knowledge, no. The national dish of Brazil is a saucer of Brazil nuts, I don’t care what Wikipedia says.


21. Iran – Abgoosht

Another stew, terrific. This time it’s an Iranian stew, meaning it’s got mutton, chickpeas, beans, onion, potatoes, tomatoes, turmeric and lime. You can even add kidney and black beans if you’re that way inclined, no judgement here. Honestly, no disrespect to stews, but they’re a smidge lazy. You just get a load of non-specific-to-your-country ingredients and boil them all together against their own free will. It’s fine, stew is fine. But it’s not incredible. Iran is definitely hiding a better national dish than this. Why you always lyin’, Iran?


20. Senegal – Thieboudienne

Spicy stuffed fish, rice, vegetables and tomato sauce. That’s what we’re dealing with here. It’s not great, but at least it’s not stew. Easily the worst part about this dish is the fact that the fish is stuffed, so the skin is left on and it looks extremely like a fish. Also, the vegetables are quite lazily chopped in this dish, which doesn’t add much to the presentation. It’s probably a very satisfying meal to eat, however it’s quite gross to look at. I’m all for eating fish, but if it’s sitting there looking at me as I dissect its insides, we’ve got a problem.


19. Egypt – Kushari

Rice, macaroni and lentils, topped with spicy tomato sauce and garlic vinegar, garnished with chickpeas, crispy fried onions and an assortment of other items seen above. Honestly, it sounds and looks pretty damn tasty. It’s a carbfest and Egypt are firmly hitting the nail on the head here. There’s a lot going on and you’re going to be stuffed afterwards. It’s a very decent effort, but also slightly dangerous in the sense that you would consume that entire plate and then vomit straight afterwards. Sorry, should’ve mentioned, I’ve got no self control. What a feast though!


18. Costa Rica – Gallo Pinto

Basically, it’s just rice and beans. Rice, beans, maybe some garnish and Bob’s your uncle. I’ve nothing against the humble combination of rice and beans, they’re the backbone of many meals, but we also need to be honest with ourselves. They’re incredibly boring. Add some sauce, get a bit of meat in there, maybe even an herb? Go wild, put it in a lettuce leaf, take it on an adventure if you fancy it. It’s fine, Gallo Pinto is fine, it’s just fine.


17. France – Pot-au-Feu

Another stew, but this time it’s French, so you know it’s decent. They take beef, carrot, turnip, leek, celery, onion, oxtail, bone marrow and then stew them all together in some kind of a French way. It’s tough to okay a stew, but these guys just know what they’re doing with food. Have you ever had a baguette? I mean Jesus Christ, that is living. They know what they’re about and that has to be commended. Pot-au-Feu isn’t France’s best dish, not by a long shot, but it’s a very decent bit of nosh. I would eat it if I was hungry.


16. Serbia – Ćevapi

It might not be much to look at, but please read these words and prepare to weep. Minced meat, skinless sausages, grilled onions, sour cream and a big chunk of flatbread. Is that not what dreams are made of? Truly, is it not? You can stuff everything into the flatbread and gorge yourself on two of the best things known to both man and woman: meat and bread. I can taste it, that’s how powerful the above imagery is. Skinless sausages are like regular sausages, except they can’t make rollie cigarettes. Thank you for your time.


15. Morocco – Moroccan Couscous

Couscous features heavily on this list, but the Moroccans really seem to know what they’re doing with it. They get some chicken, spices and vegetables, then chuck it all into a beautiful pot called a tagine, which is an incredibly fun word to say. It just looks and feels right. Couscous could be the main focus of this dish, it has every right to, but it’s humbly taking a backseat, allowing the chicken and vegetables to do the talking. That’s the sign of a real man. A man that’s comfortable with himself. Couscous, you are a gentleman and a scholar.


14. Belgium – Moules-frites

Mussels and chips. Finally, some bloody chips have graced the list. At long, long last. Belgian chips aren’t like regular chips, they’re different, special even. Whatever they’re doing to achieve that level of crispiness, I am extremely on board with. The mussels are a hit and miss addition depending on your personal preference, but I’m giving them a large thumbs up. Anything that’s served in the dish it was cooked in is always good, that is an absolute fact. Mussels and chips, happy days. Well done, Belgium.


13. Germany – Sauerbraten

Finally, some normality and it comes courtesy of the Germans. Beef pot roast marinated in wine, served with potatoes, red cabbage, a thick gravy. Folks, this is as close to porn as I’m allowed to publish. That’s a national dish right there. You could eat it every day of the week for approximately one week and not get sick of it. That’s the beauty of Sauerbraten and I’d like to extend my warmest congratulations to the German people on this occasion. I may have ranked your national anthem last, but your national dish comes in an honourable 13th place. Good job.


12. Spain – Spanish Omelette

Yeah, it’s an omelette, but it’s ploughed with potatoes. No more, no less. Well, sometimes they add onions and garlic, but that’s it. The beauty of a Spanish omelette is that you can make it at home at any time. There’s always eggs and at least one potato knocking about, as per the law which states that every homeowner must be in possession of eggs and potatoes at all times. Spain definitely has better food than an omelette to offer, such as anything on a Tapas menu, but this is what they’re proudest of. They’re humble folk who love a yolk and we have to respect that.


11. England – Fish and Chips

Here we, here we, here we fucken go. Fish, an obscene amount of crispy batter, chips, some kind of sauce, and that, my friends, is living. Not a sniff of a stew in sight as England produces a national dish that sates every appetite. Drunk? Fish and chips. Hungover? Fish and chips. Sad? Fish and chips. Happy? Fish and chips. Something that rhymes with broken hips? Fish and chips. There’s no occasion that can’t be improved by fish and chips. Not even a seafood allergy could dampen the elation. Fish and chips are best served in a polystyrene container with a tiny little fork and a heap of salt. Add your drink of choice, but bear in mind that a Dandelion and Burdock would be very patriotic.


10. Colombia – Bandeja Paisa

Bandeja paisa, or as I like to call it, hipster breakfast! Look at that impeccable combination of food. Grilled beef, avocado, beans, fried plantains, bacon, fried egg, arepa and steamed rice. They could do with digging the pit out of the avocado before serving, but other than that, it’s a very appetising national dish. Colombia also produces absolutely banging coffee, so top this all off with a cheeky little flat white and you have unlocked a new level to your life. That level is called Happiness and you will receive a welcome pack which includes a complimentary lanyard. Congrats.


9. Switzerland – Cervelat

It’s a sausage, but they cut it so it looks funny! What a treat from the Swiss, what a joy. They’re basically frankfurter sausages, but with a smokier flavour and thicker texture. They used to fill the sausages with pork brains but stopped doing that because they obviously saw sense. So what we’re left with is some funky looking sausages that you can practically taste just from looking at them. Give me precisely two of those, some ketchup, a smidge of mustard and some privacy so that I may devour them in the most unattractive manner but also in peace.


8. Sweden – Köttbullar

Meatballs. Delicious, juicy, tender meatballs that you get every damn time you visit IKEA. Typically served with gravy and potatoes in Sweden, these fun nuggets often get plated up with lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber to add another dimension to their appeal. You simply cannot go wrong with meatballs, they are a delicious concoction and something that Sweden should be very proud of. Between that and Daim bars, they have made a very honourable contribution to this world and we owe them a great debt that we simply cannot ever repay.


7. Denmark – Stegt Flæsk

Thinly sliced fried pork belly, potatoes, white sauce and a bit of parsley for garnish. Was that not a pornographic sentence? Is that image not porn? What a dish. What a treat. The pork belly is lightly salted, but never smoked. Doesn’t need it mate, jog on. Speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Needs very little work. It’s the kind of Sunday dinner your Mum prepares after she’s been watching Jamie Oliver on telly all week. She fancies a challenge, but needs a guarantee that it’s going to taste decent. She produces this. Dad sighs, your sister cries. But what’s this? It’s actually delicious? Those were sighs of elation and tears of joy? Hot damn. Mum’s done it again!


6. Japan – Sushi

Look, I absolutely understand that it’s not for everyone, but I need you to believe me when I say that there is a type of sushi out there for you. Not all of it is raw fish, you can stuff anything into that little rice casing if you set your mind to it. Put Nutella in there for all I care, I just need you to respect it. Sushi originated in Japan and it is magical. You get to consume tiny quantities of fish and rice and it’s not even bad for you. You are being healthy when you eat it. Just do me a favour, never try to make it yourself, yeah? It’s too hard. Just pay £10 for one piece like the rest of us and move on with your life. Thanks, Japan. The British supermarket that produces your national dish in bulk for extortionate prices also thanks you.


5. Australia – Meat Pie

No real explanation required here, it’s just a meat pie, innit? Pastry, some kind of meat, veg and a bit of gravy. It’s not much to look at, but you know exactly what’s hiding inside. There’s also no delicate way to eat a pie. If you’re going to knife and fork it, thank you for taking the time to read this article Your Highness, but truly the best way to approach a meat pie is just to bite straight into it. Sure, you’ll scald your mouth on the burning hot liquid, but you’ll also learn an important lesson about patience. Good things are worth waiting for. Wash your meat pie down with a Tim Tam and be on your way, champ.


4. Russia – Pelmeni

Dumplings! Harmless little innocent dumplings, begging for you to consume them in large quantities, then question why you haven’t got any self control afterwards. The Russians take thin, unleavened dough and fill it with minced meat or fish and add in some spices for flavour. They then boil the pelmeni in salted water. No frills, nothing fancy, just a humble national dish that Russia has perfected and shared with the world. They serve the dumplings with sour cream and that, my friends, is a delicious meal right there. Wash it down with vodka to live the authentic Russian dream.


3. Mexico – Tacos

Mexico just absolutely nails it with this national dish, where they fill soft or hard corn tortillas with your choice of chicken, beef, pork or fish with vegetables or salad, cheese, then top them off with guacamole, salsa and sour cream, thereby creating elation in handheld form. It’s impossible to dislike tacos. If you hate tacos, then you hate yourself and your inability to find true joy in this godforsaken world. There’s millions of possible combinations to try, all of which taste exceptional. Obviously, your tacos will be accompanied by a fresh wedge of lime stuffed down the neck of an ice cold bottle of Corona, because you’re not a monster. God bless you and thank you for this bountiful gift, Mexico.


2. Argentina – Asado

Vegetarians, look away now. It’s a BBQ! It’s BBQ food! It’s perfection. In Argentina, ‘Asado’ is the social event of having a barbecue, which is an absolute meatfest. They cook sausages, beef and an obscene amount of steak. The best part of any BBQ is overeating so much meat that your body starts to produce a very specific type of sweat. It’s not from the heat, it’s not from over-exertion, it’s from the meat. The Meat Sweats are the only downside to eating barbecue food, but they’re incredibly worth it. Argentina just gets it. BBQ food can be their national food, sure. Who cares? Do what you want. I’ll have my steak medium-well, thanks.


1. Uruguay – Chivito

It’s a club sandwich, but with steak!!!!!!!! What a national dish!!!! What a gift unto the world!!! A steak sandwich, but with club sandwich ingredients!!! Look at that beauty. Look at the size of that absolute unit. Breathe it in. This is porn. Chivito consists of tender cooked beef steak in a bun with mozzarella, tomatoes, mayonnaise, bacon, egg, lettuce and the prideful tears of an entire nation. It usually comes with chips, topping off the most perfect national dish the world has ever seen.

‘Chivito’ unfortunately translates to “kid meat”, but once you get past that disturbance, it’s thoroughly perfect. You could eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s a meal. It’s a dish. It’s a delight. Why are they keeping this tucked away in Uruguay? What are they afraid of? This should be available worldwide at all times, free to raise obesity levels because we are all gluttons at the end of the day. Uruguay, thank you for your contribution to the world. We owe you one. You can win the World Cup now. You deserve it.