It's not without cause that some call her the biggest foodie of the Games. Before competitions, Natalie 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 rootsno matter where I am in the world."
Thirty-one-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 saucealmost 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."
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.
White-water slalom kayaker Scott Parsons, 29, credits his girlfriend for introducing him to the satisfaction that is fish tacos. Parsons is savvy when it comes to pairing his tacoshe brews his own beer. "I prefer ales, hoppy ones with a lot of flavor. But too much flavor doesn't go well with fish tacoswith those, I'd have a margarita.”
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.
Taraje Williams-Murray, 23, won't be eating sweet potato fries this week10 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.