Teams bring favorite foods with them to Brazil

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 16, 2014 at 10:28 am •  Published: June 16, 2014
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SAO PAULO (AP) — Italy packed Parmesan, olive oil and prosciutto. The U.S. brought oatmeal, Cheerios, peanut butter and A1 Steak Sauce.

The Mexican team, of course, required a little more spice. El Tri traveled with the ingredients for pozole, along with chile peppers, chipotle chiles and nopales — or cactus.

When it comes to World Cup food, teams aren't willing to leave anything to chance. They expect their players to have top nutrition, and also want them to enjoy some favorites so they are comfortable and at their best when it's time to play.

For the Azzurri, attention to culinary detail is nothing new. The Italians are particular about their pasta.

"Pasta is our preferred fuel, and before matches we play with the tricolore: pasta (white), tomato (red) and extra virgin olive oil (green)," explained Italy team nutritionist Elisabetta Orsi, referring to the country's flag colors.

With everything else taking up suitcase space, the Italians left their bottled water back home this time because of the high cost to bring it, even though the federation has a water sponsor.

For England, ketchup once again is allowed on the menu by coach Roy Hodgson after predecessor Fabio Capello banned the condiment.

Italy and the United States have put a greater emphasis into nutrition under new coaches, each carefully planning meals with the guidance and direction of a dietitian or nutritionist and a chef. For Italy, even the medical staff might offer input to well-known team chef Claudio Silvestri, who has his own TV commercials.

Everything is planned carefully based on the climate, availability of fresh fruit and vegetables, and other conditions.

"Generally, the nutritionist establishes a dietary plan for the squad based on the type of training necessary match by match," Orsi said. "The physicians are responsible for pointing out problems with individual players so the nutritionist can formulate a specific diet."

Long before the U.S. team traveled to Brazil this month, chef Bryson Billapando and sports performance dietitian Danielle LaFata visited the team's hotels in Sao Paulo, Natal, Manaus and Recife to scour the kitchens and dining spaces and scout food options.

Avocados for this group are a must. The Americans go through an average of a case a day.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann loves a diet of fresh, organic vegetables — pesticide-free and flavored with herbs and spices instead of fatty options such as butter and oil. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of the foods served are made from scratch.

While the Americans had an on-site chef in South Africa four years ago, this is the first time one has been part of the lead up to the tournament.

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