Dimitris showed a group around Athens recently, in search of the best food money can buy. Then, they prepared “mezedes” (small plates) and enjoyed a picnic of delicious, local Greek food in the park. To book an upcoming event with Dimitris, head here: http://bit.ly/1AVCzJp.
As much as we love football, we love cocktails even more, and what would a big win be without a celebratory cocktail? We can’t tell you who will come out on top of each World Cup group, but what we can tell you is which cocktails dominate! We surveyed the Bookalokal team and a handful of cocktail connoisseurs to determine the premier party drink from each group. We’ll see how the strength of their cocktails correlates with a team’s ability to win games.
Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon
Winner: The Caipirinha from Brazil
While Croatia and Cameroon aren’t especially know for their cocktails, it was an incredibly close match between Mexico’s tequila and mezcal based drinks and Brazilian’s national beverage, the sour Caiparinah. In the end, the Brazilian booze came out on top due to its classic simplicity and sour kick.
Netherlands, Chile, Australia, Spain
Winner: Sangria from Spain
It was a close call between the Chilean Pisco Sour and Spain’s ubiquitous Sangria, but in the end, Sangria took the win because of its versatility and refreshing quality. Try this recipe for a peach sangria.
Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Greece
Winner: Ouzo from Greece
We chose Ouzo for the win in this group. Ouzo is an anise-flavored Greek spirit, it’s traditionally mixed with water, which changes the color from clear to milky white. It can also be mixed with lemon for a citrusy cocktail.
Costa Rica, England, Italy, Uruguay
Winner: Negroni from Italy
You can’t go wrong with a Negroni. This Italian aperitif was first concocted in Florence in 1919 but it remains popular in Italy and abroad. It’s bitter and easy to whip up – simply combine equal parts Campari, gin and red vermouth.
France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras
Winner: The French Blonde from France
We chose The French Blonde because this little known cocktail needs a lot more recognition. A mix of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, gin and White Lillet are topped off with fresh squeeze grapefruit juice to make up this zingy drink. This simple, sour cocktail was the clear winner of the group. Find a recipe here.
Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Winner: Malbec from Argentina
While Malbec is not a cocktail, you can use it to make a Mulled Argento. Traditionally a French wine varietal, Malbec has surged in popularity in Argentina. The grapes have an inky dark color and robust tannins. This one was an easy win for Argentina, considering the rest of the countries in the group don’t really dabble in cocktails.
Germany, USA, Ghana, Portugal
Winner: An Old-Fashioned from the US
The USA may not have the strongest football team in the world but they do have an incredibly strong cocktail culture. As an homage to America’s rich cocktail history, we’ve chosen the Old-Fashioned (the original cocktail, first documented in 1806) as the winning drink.
Belgium, Korea, Russia, Algeria
Winner: Belgian Trappist Beer from Belgium
Ok, ok, we know that beer isn’t a cocktail but we are going to make an exception here because we think Belgian Trappist beer beats a White Russian or glass of Soju any day.
“Food…can look beautiful, taste exquisite, smell wonderful, make people feel good, bring them together, inspire romantic feelings…At its most basic, it is fuel for a hungry machine…”
-Rosamond Richardson, English cookery author
Food wields an almighty social power. As Rosmond Richardson points out in the quote above it has the power to make us feel good, bring us together and inspire intense romances. At Bookalokal, we acknowledge this power, and harness it to bring unlikely friends together over a home-cooked meal, a champagne tasting or a ravioli-making lesson. Food allows us to connect with people on the most basic of levels. And, as the Buddha acknowledged way back in 536 BCE, “There is no joy in eating alone.” No one should have to deny themselves the basic human comfort that is connecting over a good meal.
Many cultures have realized the strength with which food brings people together. For, in addition to allowing connections at the most basic human level, a meal offers a unique occasion for sharing and for the expression of true altruism. From Grecian symposia, to Cuban Paladares, social dining is embedded in the history of humanity.
Greeks in 7th Century BC acknowledged this basic truth and thus took their eating and drinking very seriously. Greek historian Plutrach once said of food, “A guest comes to share not only meat, wine, and dessert, but conversation, fun, and the amiability that leads to friendship.” He is also referenced as believing that individual portions “kill sociability” because they cut out the social interactions required when passing dishes along to a fellow diner.
The symposium (i.e. banquet) was a favorite Greek pastime that can be best described as a “gathering of drinkers.” The event was broken in to two parts, the first, a feast of simple food accompanied by wine and the second, a period purely dedicated to drinking in honor of Dionysus. During these periods of heavy drinking hearty snacks (τραγήματα tragēmata) were served in order to absorb alcohol and extend the drinking spree. These classic “drunk foods” included chestnuts, beans, toasted wheat and honey cakes.
In keeping with the tradition of social dining, many cultures find it best to share their food from a common plate. In Ethiopia, for instance, friends and family gather over a shared selection of dishes and use injera (a yeast-risen flatbread) to scoop up mouthfuls of food. This style of group dining signifies deep bonds of loyalty and friendship. Dining from a shared plate is a common practice in many cultures, a significant marker of the inherent social nature of food.
In modern times, social dining has remained a key aspect in some places around the globe. In Communist Cuba, prior to the mid-90s, privately-owned small restaurants were outlawed. Cuba’s response to this restriction was was the Paladar, a guerilla-style restaurant run secretly out of the home. Today, paladares are a great way to gain an authentic, local culinary experience while traveling in Cuba. The tradition of paladares speaks to the power of food to bring people together, even in the face of harsh legal restrictions.
The recent resurgence of social dining in intimate, underground settings should come as no surprise. From the Grecian symposia, to Ethiopian shared plates, to Cuban paladares, these cultures all realized the same… there is no joy in eating alone, a realization that has also inspired the social dining movement. The social ritual of dining is more alive than ever, with opportunities to break bread in new places with new people all around the globe… it’s time to book a local!