Women's EURO: What's on the menu inside the Spain camp? Their chef spills the beans
Tuesday, July 19, 2022
The Spain UEFA Women's EURO squad chef "likes to surprise them every day" with a variety of dishes, but which ingredients couldn't he find in England? And what is the players' favourite post-match treat?
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As a rule, the Spanish love their food. And, as Luis Nieto Rodríguez can vouch, Spanish footballers are no different.
In his work as the UEFA Women's EURO Spain squad's chef, Nieto has the task of preparing food that is both healthy and varied – and on this score, he believes La Roja lead the way.
He explains: "We are one of the teams with the most varied menu. From what I've seen, other countries have more strict, routine menus. Because Spanish food has such variety we can get a lot of different dishes so they don't get bored."
"What I most like is setting up a buffet, opening the doors and lifting the covers of the dishes and then a) seeing a look of surprise from the players and coaching staff; and b) that they like the food. I like to surprise them every day so it's not just the same each time. That's the goal."
Before each matchday the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) press officer actually sends to the media following the team here in England a breakdown of the pre-match meal – and each time there are two main courses on offer (meat and fish), with potatoes or pasta, along with starters and a healthy dessert such as fruit and fat-free yoghurt.
When are Spain next playing?
La Roja face hosts England in the quarter-finals on Wednesday 20 July at Brighton & Hove Community Stadium.
"The doctor [Armando Eizmendi] designs the menu and I then develop it according to the ingredients available," says Nieto, explaining that this entailed a pre-EURO visit to England to check which ingredients had to be brought over from Spain.
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"We came here a couple of months before to see what ingredients we couldn't get, like Iberico ham which is something the players like a lot," he said. "We've brought it from Spain, along with rice for our paella, and lentils and chickpeas which are important in our diet. We've also brought basic things to improve our dishes like olive oil, rice, saffron and paprika. And coffee, too."
As for refuelling after a game, reserve goalkeeper Lola Gallardo explains that "we tend to have pizza in the dressing room" but also, crucially, "leave space for some dessert [back at the hotel]. After the games, especially when we win, we get a treat and Luis does them really well."
And the team's treat of choice? Back to Nieto to explain: "The players love natillas [a custard-like dessert] and rice pudding – that's like when you give a treat to a child. Just once in a while, though. They can't have them too often because of the sugar."
Spain supporters will hope he will be serving up at least three more helpings of the sweet stuff between now and 31 July.