Eat Like an Olympian
From smoked turkey legs to sweet potato fries, seven US Olympic team standouts share their competition-worthy foods.
BY EMILY KAISER AND JAIMIE DALESSIO
If, like everyone here at F&W, you’re not one of the approximately 10,200 athletes competing in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, you can still eat like one. We’ve compiled favorite dishes from seven of our favorite US Olympians, from swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps to judo marvel Taraje Williams-Murray.
And if you are on the US Olympic team, or simply one of the lucky 4.8 million tourists expected to visit Beijing this year, check out F&W’s food guide to Beijing with star chef Susanna Foo and F&W’s 2008 Go List Asia.
Raised in California’s San Francisco Bay area, Coughlin trained to be a chef and dreams of having her own cooking show, so it’s not without cause that some call her the biggest foodie of the Games. Before competitions, Coughlin’s mother used to make her Filipino fried eggs over rice with soy sauce; today Coughlin’s rice affections also include Italian risottos. “I keep to a pretty strict diet, but you can’t make risotto without a little butter,” she says. “It’s a great complex carbohydrate for training too so I don’t feel too guilty indulging.”
It’s hard to imagine that Georgia native Cheryl Haworth struggled as a small, slight kid, but the 25-year-old powerhouse of the US weightlifting team has fond memories of a few childhood dishes. “I’m kind of famous with my friends and family for my love of barbequed ribs and Boston butts [pork shoulder],” she says. “They remind me of my Southern roots — no matter where I am in the world.”
Sport: Track and Field
31-year-old shot-putter Reese Hoffa likes to perform victory laps holding a smoked turkey leg in one hand, but he most profoundly loves lasagna with chicken, spinach and cheesy Alfredo sauce—almost superstitiously so. “It would have to be the mix of the Alfredo sauce and the spinach that I love most,” Hoffa explains. “I once had it for every meal for two days before a meet. I won the meet with nothing but chicken lasagna in my system.”
Though Food & Wine has yet to run a recipe for chicken lasagna with spinach and Alfredo sauce, here are 3 fantastically spinachy, cheese-laden dishes that come close:
- Fettuccine Alfredo with Asparagus
- Virginia Fettuccine Alfredo
- Baked Cheese-Stuffed Shells
- 25+ Fast Pastas
The 5”1’ star of the US men’s gymnastics team says his perfect meal is barbecued chicken, refried beans, potato salad, and a Coke. In fact, 21-year-old Horton will be dining out on it after every competition as a reward.
You can support him at home with these knockout versions from F&W:
- Pitmaster Paul Kirk’s masterful slow-smoked chicken
- Stephanie Valentine’s creamy refried beans
- Leonard Schwartz and Michael Rosen’s aptly All-American potato salad with a luscious Dijon dressing
White-water slalom kayaker Scott Parsons, 29, credits his girlfriend for introducing him to the satisfaction that is fish tacos. When it comes to cooking, he says, “She’s the mastermind. I’m just the tester.” But Parsons is savvy when it comes to pairing his tacos—he brews his own beer. “I prefer ales, hoppy ones with a lot of flavor. But too much flavor doesn’t go well with fish tacos—with those, I’d have a margarita.”
Here’s one of our favorite margarita recipes—and 3 of our simplest, healthiest and most satisfying fish tacos.
- Rosa Mexicano Margarita
- Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime Guacamole and Cabbage Slaw
- Grilled Fish Tacos
- Quick Fish Tacos
- 10+ Fast Mexican Dishes
Michael Phelps was understandably reluctant to get out of the swimming pool to speak with us directly, but his publicist Marissa Gagnon was kind enough to confirm that the 23-year-old wunderkind loves steak. And pizza.
While we have many wonderful recipes for both, we thought we’d highlight a rarer classic from the F&W archives that unites them both: seared sirloin steak with fresh tomatoes cooked with olive oil, garlic and peppery oregano—a.k.a., steak pizzaiola.
Taraje Williams-Murray, 23, won’t be eating sweet potato fries this week—ten days before every competition he has to cut out all starchy foods. But he relishes the sweet-salty treat when he can get them. “I look forward to this meal more than any other because I’m usually craving carbs,” he says.