The 21st FIFA World Cup starts Thursday, with host country Russia kicking off soccer’s quadrennial party against Saudi Arabia. To help you celebrate, we’ve gathered recipes for every country in the 32-team field, including mighty Brazil (210.87 million people) and charming underdog Iceland (335,000). Don’t worry, we’ve kept the sports analogies to a minimum.
Hungry for soccer analysis? Be sure to sign up for The Post’s World Cup newsletter.
GROUP A: Russia, Egypt, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia
Salad Olivier, a potato salad with carrots, peas, pickles, hard-cooked eggs and chunks of ham or chicken, is practically mandatory eating at any celebratory table in Russia. Once you try this delightful mix, with a tangy dressing of mayonnaise and sour cream, you’ll understand why.
Dukkah is a crunchy, aromatic spice and nut blend from Egypt; here, it’s deployed two ways in a Roasted Carrot, Green Bean and Coconut Salad — some is mixed into a simple dressing of oil and white wine vinegar, while the rest is scattered on top of the finished dish. You can buy dukkah at spice shops, online or some grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s. It is, of course, also easy to make your own — we used a bit from a big batch of our hazelnut-studded version that’s stashed in our refrigerator.
In the Washington area, you may have encountered the chivito, a meaty sandwich from Uruguay, at the now-closed Fast Gourmet (or perhaps at its replacement, Panino Gourmet). Make your own chivito with thin slices of Chipotle Honey-Marinated Steak, plus ham, eggs, mozzarella, tomatoes, olives and perhaps mushrooms and bacon.
Saudi Arabia is one of the top 10 date-producing countries in the world. Give those naturally sweet fruit a spin in some Whole-Wheat Date Bars (Ma’roota) — they make a nice breakfast or snack and feature an aromatic, fennel and anise seed infused dough.
GROUP B: Spain, Morocco, Iran, Portugal
Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms make a mighty fine small bite from Spain — they’re filled with a mix of Mahón cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh thyme, paprika and bread crumbs.
Did you know you can make bread in less time than it takes to watch the Morocco vs. Iran match? It’s true! This Pain Petri (Anise-Flavored Challah With Sesame Seeds) is ready in an hour and makes a big batch, which means you’ll have plenty for toasting or turning into sweet or savory French toast.
This Olive, Pomegranate and Walnut Dip (Zeytoon Parvardeh) comes from northern Iran. It’s a savory, salty, fruity mix that goes well on flatbread, crackers or baguette slices.
Get pumped up with this Amped-Up Red Pepper Paste (Massa de Pimentao) from Portugal. It has a hefty amount of sweet and smoked paprika, plus dry red wine, garlic, bay leaves and tomato paste, all balanced with a little acidity from lemon juice and a shot of earthiness from cilantro. Use it as a spread with cheese, stir it into tomato sauce or spread over chicken, pork, fish or potatoes before roasting.
GROUP C: France, Denmark, Australia, Peru
Rise and shine for Saturday’s 6 a.m. Eastern France vs. Australia match with this perfect Sunday Brunch Omelet from Washington’s Le Diplomate restaurant. It’s soft on the outside and creamy within.
The slightly bitter cocktail The 866 comes from Ruby, a cocktail bar in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a complex, salty-tangy mix of aquavit, grapefruit juice and Campari.
This chewy Warm Blondie Pudding Cake was adapted by Nigella Lawson from a 2016 contestant on “MasterChef Australia.” It’s squidgy in the best of ways and is splendid served with fresh fruit and a little crème fraîche.
Mushroom Ceviche from Peru makes for a simple, refreshing, meatless appetizer. Serve it with bread or roasted potatoes to soak up the marinade.
GROUP D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
Alfajores — tender sandwich cookies with a filling of dulce de leche — are a popular cookie in Argentina (and other South American countries). This recipe adds a little ground almond to the butter cookie for extra crispness. Gooooooool.
Time for another drink! Try the Aviation Cocktail, featuring an ingredient with roots in Croatia — this unique tipple is a blend of gin, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur, a spirit made from Marasca cherries, originating from the Dalmatia region of Croatia.
Seafood is a major source of food in Iceland, so we opt for this Dilled Potato Salad With Smoked Trout. If it makes you want to clap and chant in unison in an incredible display that’s simultaneously beautiful and incredibly intimidating, we’d understand.
If you’ve not had soumbala, or ground locust bean, now’s an excellent time to seek some out, so you can make food historian Michael Twitty’s African Soul Fried Rice. The spice has a lovely smoky and pungent flavor and is native to West and Central Africa; in Nigeria, it’s known as dadawa.
GROUP E: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Costa Rica
Danila’s Brazilian-Style Beans, flavored simply with garlic and bay leaves, are a tribute to the ubiquitous bean dishes found throughout Brazil.
It’s pretty great of FIFA to coordinate the World Cup with our sour cherry season, don’t you think? Take a cue from Serbia and make this Tart Serbian-Style Cherry Pie (Pita sa visnjama), featuring flaky layers of phyllo dough and a tangy boost from sour cream.
Herby Mushroom and Swiss Crepes are proof that crepes can be quick, savory and satisfying. These are filled with a clever mix of mushrooms, herbs and the irresistible buttery cheese from Switzerland, Emmenthaler.
For a taste of Costa Rica, try a refreshing Pineapple Papaya Frosty. If you are so inclined, spike it with tequila, rum or sparkling wine.
GROUP F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Will Mesut Özil and Thomas Müller guide Die Mannschaft (the Germannational team) to another championship? There’s no guarantee, but if you have an onion, a bottle of beer and good sausages, then we can at least promise you’ll have Bratwurst Cooked the Right Way. (If you don’t have access to a grill, you can get similar results by cooking your brats in a cast-iron skillet — cook the onions first, then add the brats and beer; cook, covered, for about 5 minutes on medium heat, turning occasionally. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, turning the brats frequently until the beer evaporates and the brats are cooked through and nicely browned.)
Cookbook author and public television host Pati Jinich sampled this RawTomatillo and Chipotle Salsa Verde in the small town of Valle de Bravo, Mexico. It strikes the right balance between tart and spicy, thanks to those tomatillos and chipotles en adobo. An optional but highly recommended garnish of diced avocado and some queso fresco lend a creamy texture and pops of saltiness.
These Crispy Toffee Cookies are built around a Swedish candy bar called Daim, which, fortunately for you, has two close relatives (Skor and Heath) in the States.
Steamed Tofu With Sauteed Kimchi, a delightful marriage of soft, bland tofu with crunchy, funky kimchi, is a popular Korean drinking snack.
GROUP G: Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia
Belgium makes us think of many things, foodwise — mussels, beer, chocolate, waffles. But here’s another thing you should know about: Belgian-Style Crepes. A bottle of beer in the batter acts as a leavener and contributes a slightly bitter flavor.
A batch of British Scones is perfect for afternoon tea or breakfast while cheering on England. Serve with clotted cream and jam, then ponder making Cucumber Sandwiches for your second cuppa.
Known as patacones in Panama, twice fried green plantains (Tostones) are tasty with merely a generous sprinkling of salt, but they also make excellent vehicles for salsas or other dips.
This flavorful Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad With Tuna and Black Olives is a classic dish in Tunisia. Its source of zip is the spicy pepper paste harissa; you can make your own or find it in well-stocked grocery stores.
GROUP H: Colombia, Poland, Senegal, Japan
Pay homage to the tropical fruits found in Colombia with this Banana Tart With Guava Glaze, featuring a heavenly balance of sweet and sour.
Fusilli With Polish Sausage, Potatoes and Caramelized Onions takes the flavors of the Polish classic, pierogi, and adds sausage, horseradish and whole-grain mustard. We appreciate the ease of a pasta dish, but if you’re having friends over to watch a game (say, the Sunday, June 24, match when Poland faces off against Colombia) you couldconsider having a pierogi party — and enlisting your friends to help fill and fold bundles of dough. Our Family-Style Pierogi is just the ticket.
This version of Senegalese Chicken Yassa, a traditional dish from southern Senegal, is enriched with pimento-stuffed olives, carrots and mustard.
Honestly we’re shocked it took us this long to make the very obvious suggestion of meatballs. (Because soccer balls are basically giant meatballs!) For Japan, go with these easy Chicken Meatballs (Tsukune) — the recipe makes just enough for two servings, so you might also consider Baked Sweet Potatoes With Yuzu Butter. You can make a joke about the potatoes resembling footballs and discuss the contention that occasionally arises when using the terms “soccer” and “football.”