Final: Switzerland vs. Hungary

Once again we need to eliminate a cuisine in The World Cup of Food and get one step closer to crowning a champion.  This week’s match between Switzerland and Hungary featured Swiss cheesy goodness and Hungary’s spice of choice, paprika.

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Hungarian Cuisine — Paprikás Csirke: Paprika Chicken

To understand Hungarian cuisine, it is important to understand the travels of Hungary’s largest ethnic group, the historically nomadic Magyars.  The Magyar people’s origins have been traced as far back as the year 2000 BCE, when a group of Uralic-speaking people began to split from the rest of their people and occupied the southern Ural Mountains region, in what today is Kazakhstan.  Between the fourth and eighth centuries the group moved over the Urals into today’s Ukraine and southwest Russia.  Around the beginning of the tenth century they moved into the region that today is called Hungary and have been there ever since.

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Puerto Rican Cuisine — Arroz Con Gandules: Rice With Pigeon Peas

Christmas is celebrated with vigor around the world, but perhaps no one revels quite as hard as the Puerto Ricans.  Beginning at the end of November and lasting until the latter part of January, the Puerto Rico Christmas season is dotted with celebrations, each its own reason for a feast.  Holiday gatherings might feature lechón, roast young pig; tostones, fried plantain slices; bacalaítos fritos, salt cod fritters; or various other local specialties.  Virtually no holiday meal, though, is without arroz con gandules (recipe follows), rice with pigeon peas.

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Puerto Rican Cuisine — Pernil Asado: Roast Pork Shoulder

Puerto Rican cuisine today is a blend of the native Taíno culture’s practices (sadly, there are no remaining Taínos to keep this tradition alive) along with influences from European colonists (you guessed it, the Spanish) and African slaves that later inhabited the Caribbean island.  After the Spanish ceded the island to the United States in 1898 (one of the clauses in the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War), American influences became a part of the local cuisine as well.

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