My Favorites for the next round in Soccer’s World Cup

France over Germany. I’m a direct descendant of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. I’m ready if they ever come to their senses and restore me to my rightful throne. On the other hand, they did kill some of my Hugenot ancestors in their religious wars some centuries ago. I bicycled through France while in grad school and had a great time, except for that one French driver who ran me off the road and sent me to the hospital. France has invaded Germany many more than times than vice versa over the centuries. However, Germany has done the last three invading. I took French in school and at my peak, I could go toe to toe with any French eight year old. While I like German food very much, I love French food much more and have so many more French recipes. And my gosh, how could I not root for the country that invented the chocolate eclair?

Brazil over Columbia. Brazil speaks Portuguese. Portuguese names are cool. Is there any name cooler than Vasco di Gama? (Quite possibly spelled correctly.) I liked the variety of Brazilian cuisine over Columbian. Brazil has had brutal dictatorships, while Columbia has been in the thrall of drug cartels. It’s gotten better in both countries. In grad school at Wisconsin, I sometimes worked registering students. One semester the whole process got horribly messed up. Students who registered at the end found no classes open that they liked. Some were nearly in tears, afraid they couldn’t register for any class at all and would have paid tuition for nothing. Fortunately, there was a poster behind me that read, “Why not Portuguese?” Apparently the Portuguese department had openings in their classes for the tired, huddled masses of freshmen yearning for credits so they could graduate in four years.  I hope that helped the beleaguered students.

Belgium over Argentina. While much better now, Argentina once had a brutal dictatorship while Belgium has remained pretty much harmless. Years ago, I bicycled through Belgium without incident. Yay. Who could not love the Argentinian barbecue, but for goodness sake, Belgium gifted humanity with the French fry. And who does not feel warm and fuzzy about the Belgian waffle? Belgium did beat America, boo!, and if the Belgians had invented only the French fry, I’d be saying, “Viva, Argentina!” But the Belgian waffle brought me back to backing Belgium. Close call, though.

Netherlands over Costa Rica. I don’t no anything about Costa Rican cuisine, sorry. However, the Dutch have the most amazing spicy mustard they put on their French fries. And my gosh, the Dutch know how to cook their French fries just right! Their mini pancakes with confectionery sugar is one of the world’s best desserts. You can get great Indonesian food anywhere in the Netherlands. Sure, that’s because the Dutch invaded Indonesia in the 1600s, which was bad. But the Dutch left Indonesia in 1948 taking home a love for Indonesian food, one of the world’s greatest cuisine. I lived in the Netherlands for three years while a teenager and loved it. The people there are very nice. They keep everything clean except for a strange blind spot about dog poop everywhere on the side walks.

– Sports reporter, Paul De Lancey

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