There were fans running through the streets of downtown Long Beach this afternoon, blowing vuvuzelas like they were in Polokwane, South Africa. They wore Dos Santos, Marquez, Fernandez and Blanco El Tri jerseys because, yes, Mexico just beat France in the World Cup, 2-0.
Much was made of the England vs. U.S. match-up last week, partly for our “special relationship,” but also for our long and sometimes bloody shared history: the Colonies, the Tea Party (not that Tea Party) the Revolutionary War, etc., etc. And really, the same could've been done for the Mexico vs. France match. Cinco de Mayo? A celebration of Mexico beating the French–albeit, in a battle, with guns and whatnot. And Mexico spent a number of years under French military rule. So with the Cinco de Mayo history and contemporary celebrations (read: drinking) in mind, the soccer game on TV and a Dueling Dishes post to write, the only logical thing to do was to crack open a few of each nation's most popular beer–Kronenbourg 1664 for France, Corona for Mexico–for a match up of the people's beer to go along side the people's game.
Beer is the most obvious crossover between sports and food, but its unfortunate there doesn't exist a more exciting culinary match-up from these two countries. Baguettes vs. bolillos? And for all of the gourmet lonchera madness going around, the Franco-Mexican truck selling duck fat tamales stuffed with pork confit–carnitas by another name–and steamed in fig leaves, has yet to materialize. How I'd love to see the Arellano diatribe that would certainly incite though . . . And I've developed a hunch that margaritas might actually be a Franco-Mexican relic–Triple Sec!–but I don't dare go any further down that path than I already have.
So, yes: beer. France's Kronenbourg brewery, located in Strausbourg, holds a mass of the country's beer market share–as much as 40% of sales nationwide are of the brewery's pale lager, 1664. Without a doubt, there were many a pint of 1664 slammed down against a zinc bar top across the country as frustrated Frechmen watched Les Bleus fall. 1664 tastes like you would expect a massively popular beer to: slightly bland, innocuous, not exactly brimming with flavor. Taking a sip of my bottle, my girlfriend–a devout Francophile–declared that it tasted just like American beer, which sums up its pros and cons just about completely.
Corona, like its French counterpart, is never going to be described in glowing beerspeak, but with a slice of lime jammed down the neck of a bottle, maybe a few pinches of salt thrown in for a lazy, basic michelada, it's a hell of a lot more exciting than 1664. Are you seeing the parallels here? Mexico has more sabor than France both on the field and in the bottle, giving them the Dueling Dishes victory as well.
¡Vamos El Tri!