greek salad with cheese, olives, tomatoes and herbs

On 18 May the big event that we all know and love (ish) will be back on our TV screens, showing us what 39 very different countries can do with their voices and some semi-professional dancers. The Eurovision Song Contest, a glorious miasma of fancy dress, eye-opening acts and hilarious accents comes around a little too quickly doesn’t it?

This year it’s being hosted by last year’s winners, Sweden, in the city of Malmo. I have never been and am now less likely to. But, never one to miss out on the fun, I like to round up my three favourite countries, judging them not on their voices but on their food, and cooking them up on the night.

My absolute favourite this year is Sweden (I take not wanting to go to Malmo back!), not because they are the hosts but because I have a new crush on Swedish food. My particular favourite is pickled herring, swimming in a wonderful blend of vinegar, sugar, dill and star anise. Heaven. Then there are the meatballs – and I’m not talking about the ones at Ikea – I’m talking plain and simple with fresh dill running through and served with a sweet lingonberry sauce, potato purée and pickled wallys. And let’s not forget the delicious open sandwiches – fillings fit for a king on dense, sweet rye bread.  I’m not even going to mention the cakes, buns and pastries because I won’t be able to stop…Yup, I hope Sweden wins (again) this year.

Greece is my second choice. I’ve always been a fan, and they can have my vote year on year, I don’t mind – especially because their song this year is called ‘Alcohol is Free’, which I find hilarious. Who doesn’t love a free drink? But make that free drink a cool glass of white wine and present it to me with garlic-tastic tzatziki, a proper horiatiki salad peppered with Kalamata olives and some lightly battered calamari then I am putty. Putty. (Another meatball wouldn’t go amiss here either as I am partial to the lamby Greek-style ones too).

And last but not least: the UK. Usually I’m a little embarrassed with our turn out, but this year Bonnie Tyler is our representative, which is fairly promising. And the food – oh the food, will always make my stomach rumble. Picnics are my favourite I think. Proper scotch eggs with salty sausage meat and soft yolks, and pork pies spread with proper English mustard that makes your eyes water and nose run.

That is what British food is all about. Cold cooked sausages from the butcher, curried coronation chicken and seasonal salads of chicory, broad beans and watercress. Yes please to all the above, washed down with a crisp cider from the West Country and rounded off with some traditional cheeses and oat cakes.

So, there we have my top three. They should keep me sated during the cringe marathon on 18 May. Which cuisines will you be cooking up?