4 things we learned while watching England-Brazil and attempting to cook sole meunière
1. Preparation is important
An unfamiliar-looking England started slowly, as players who have spent little time together struggled to do the simple things.
Similarly, all but the most experienced cooks will benefit from doing some weighing and chopping before getting down to business. Waiting for butter to clarify can be as frustrating as Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford failing to get on the same wavelength, and we promised to have dinner on the table by the time the final whistle went.
2. This was a perfect chance to try something new
Last night was a friendly, and sole meunière is far less challenging than bouillabaisse or lobster Thermidor, so it’s fine to experiment with tarragon, chives, or Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Harry Maguire would be unlikely to play if everyone was available, but Gareth Southgate will have learned a lot about him – just like we learned that coriander gives an interesting kick to a meunière sauce. Not all experiments work, though: parsley and Gary Cahill will be back next time.
3. You can have too much of a good thing
Lemon is a classic garnish to any fish dish, but it only does one thing: it should be there to complement the other ingredients, not overpower them. Sole has a delicate flavor and Southgate should resist the temptation to line up Jake Livermore next to Eric Dier, with the more versatile Adam Lallana and Harry Winks pushed to the side of the plate.
It’s sole meunière with lemon, not lemon with sole meunière, as we learned to our cost. A dash of cayenne pepper, like Raheem Sterling in a free role, could be a risk worth taking.
BACK OF THE NET
4. Expensive is not the same as good
The £50m Kyle Walker was England’s least impressive player on the night, and risks losing his place to the £3.5m Kieran Trippier – just as our food processor chops up herbs far less efficiently than a good old-fashioned kitchen knife.
Brazil have work to do here too: you can have all the expensive gadgets in the world, like Neymar, a Le Creuset skillet and Gabriel Jesus, but you are judged on results and our sole meunière was frankly a little dry.
Plenty to think about as we look ahead to Russia 2018 and tomorrow night’s chicken cacciatore.