The World Cup Dining Bracket

What’s really at steak for the biggest day in global sport

Paul Greenberg
3 min readDec 16, 2022


“Boeuf Bourguignon 2022” by ZhengZhou licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0. Asado Photo Óscar Salgado on Unsplash

Technically it’s France vs. Argentina. But for those who’ve been following the World Cup closely (and by closely I mean from the bar stools of ethnic restaurants of whoever’s playing) the finals will be a battle of the beef as Bourguignon takes on Asado Sunday morning around breakfast time in New York.

Who could have predicted that the entire Tapas Peninsula would fall to Couscous?

In the unsettled group stage and round of 16, it was unclear who would have the upper hand. Wursts battled Empanadas in grueling contests that proved inconclusive (and filling). And of course there was surprise upon surprise. Who could have predicted that the entire Tapas Peninsula would fall to Couscous? Who could have foreseen that courageous Bi Bim Bop and noble Tempura would go so many courses deep before being dispatched with haste by the likes of Feijoada and Çevapi? But, in truth, in a tournament where staples like Pasta failed to even qualify, anything is possible.

Of course there were some disappointments. No matter how much they’ve grown culinarily over the years, everyone knew deep down that the “new” Fish and Chips were pretty much the same as the old Fish and Chips. Sure they might have managed to blow easily through a plate of surprisingly bland Djolof Rice, but when faced with a deep and robust Bourguignon their star cod piece proved un-crisp.

On the other side of the bracket, the grilled meats teams proved that, in general, when trying to take possession of a platter as big as the World Cup, ill-defined stews, whether northern or southern hemisphere in origin, just don’t have the viscosity. This same logic played out when Çevapi took on Asado in the tournament’s other semifinal. Sure, both are fragrant and mouth-watering when a fire is lit beneath them, but ultimately if you’re going to pursue a charcoal strategy this far into international play, you need at least one really solid piece of meat to satiate. Ground lamb just won’t cut it.

And so here we are with one glorious meal left (ok, two if you count the Couscous Çevapi consolation brunch on Saturday morning). I don’t know about you but I can barely eat another bite. But what’s a fan to do? Push the plate away and say pas plus/no mas?

Not this sports fan.

I will be there at Les Enfants de Bohème on the Lower East Side of Manhattan ready for the final bite. And even though it technically will be breakfast I am ready for whatever these two top tier entree teams want to throw at me.

May the best beef win.



Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World