The Best Parts are the Offals!
Loved talking World Cups past and present with Santo Cilauro on Joe Simon's Inside Football podcast. We debriefed the France game, and Santo reminisced about a Munich meal we shared in 2006.
‘Good one, Wilson’ now has a podcast feed! I’ll put up little bits of audio I’ve recorded from interviews, radio spots, podcasts. I just posted an episode of Inside Football with Joe Simon. If you want to listen to that episode on its home turf, you’ll find it here:
If Australian football fandom has a number one ticket holder, it could well be Santo Cilauro. Not only did he create the best and funniest World Cup show in ‘Santo Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever’, he’s enthused, opined, analysed, promoted and shouted for round-ball football on every media platform for thirty-five years.
One of the thrills of writing my sports travel memoir ‘Australia United — Adventures at FIFA World Cup Germany, 2006’ was interviewing and getting to know Santo Cilauro. I loved ‘The D Generation’ and ‘The Late Show’. They were the most important Australian television shows of my late teens and early twenties. Even now, when I hear the hiss of a cappuccino machine, I say to myself, ‘that could be our friend the koala’ followed by ‘the billy’s boiling, Gino!’ I won’t bother explaining. The sketch isn’t on YouTube. It is however deeply embedded in me.
So I was thrilled to meet Santo in the early 2000s, doubly thrilled that we became World Cup friends. When he was introduced on Joe Simon’s podcast yesterday, we reminisced over happy times spent in Munich meateries:
TW: We ate odd meats at a little cafe in Munich , we tried all parts of the pig, it’s what they advertised on the window, it said, ‘we sell all parts of the pig.’
Santo: In fact , they had a little sub motto underneath that, Tony, it said, ‘the offal is often the best!’ Can you believe it Tony, that was 2006, ever since then I’ve become a vegetarian!’
Santo sent me a photo last night of the menu from the Weisses Brauhaus. I’m thinking that just as Sam Malone from Cheers kept the lucky bottle cap from the last bottle of beer he ever drank, Santo might be keeping photos of the Speisenkarte that turned him vegetarian.
If you do give this menu a quick read, I guarantee you’ll get to the Cakes and Desserts section and be thinking, what, no pork?
Our lunch at Weisses Brauhaus is the launching pad for Chapter Seven of Australia United:
‘The best parts are the offals,’ the menu at Weisses Brauhaus said, and given my limited experience with offal stretched to barbecued intestine at a house party in Montevideo, I was in no position to argue.
The offals in question were many and various. Kuheuter was there, to tempt those with a hankering for cow’s udder in tartare sauce, as was Schweinsleber Sauer, or pork’s liver sour, with boiled potatoes. Calf’s feet, calf’s head, goose lard, a suckling pork’s liver and kidneys of free range beast. The innards were available in all shapes and sizes. There was actually a small part of me that wanted to udder up, or tucker down on some kaubslungerl sauer (aka: calf lung sour), but after a brief consultation with the writer and performer Santo Cilauro, and taking into account ‘the best parts were the offals’, I went for one of the 18 types of Bavarian sausage on offer. In the sausages at least, the offals were working undercover.
Santo ordered pork spare ribs, which arrived in a colossal stack, as though Santo was Neanderthal man and he had just made a kill. ‘Does anyone want a rib? Don’t worry, I have a few spare.’ The spare ribs gag earned barely a titter at its first run, but by outing number eight was starting to find its feet.
‘In case anyone didn’t hear me before, they’re welcome to a rib. I do have a few spare.’
Santo is one of the country’s most famous football fans. Viewers of The Panel would know Santo also has a passion for professional wrestling and Italian game shows. But, over this meaty lunch, I wanted to talk to him about football. I was heartened by his approach to the Brazil loss: he didn’t blame the referee or the Socceroos for the defeat. Instead, he blamed the ball.
‘The ball is a disgrace,’ he said jovially, emphasising his point with a thrust of rib. ‘The ball is an absolute disgrace. The ball is part leather, part helium. It’s pathetic. Everybody’s over-hitting it. Like when Mark Viduka had his lob shot that hit the top of the net. I think his instincts were 100 per cent right. He weighted it beautifully, perfectly, but it floated too far, because it isn’t the ball he’s played with for the whole of his career. That ball needs to have a good hard look at itself.’
On the podcast yesterday, Santo was on about the ball again. This time, he doesn’t think it’s a disgrace — it seems to be going where the players want it to go. For Qatar 2022, he’s wowed by the digi miracles that are occurring to calculate offsides, the way the ball is ‘talking’ to the players’ bodies:
And can I ask what are the 29 points on the body that are connected to the inside of the ball? I don’t understand that. I can understand that there is some technology inside the ball. What are these 29 points? I mean have they got little microchips in people’s foreheads and shoulder blades and ankles? It’s so crazy!’
Santo said in the podcast that ‘this is by far the weakest team the Socceroos have fielded at these five World Cups’, but he also said about the game on Saturday:
We can only be positive, we have to push forward, and that makes me feel very excited. We know Tunisia is a good side, and they’ve probably got some good support there for them, but think of how we’ve got through things in the past. When we’re backs against the wall, that’s when we’re weirdest, wildest, craziest, and it can come undone really quickly … but if it goes well, it could be pretty exhilarating.
We then did some fixture gazing and what-iffing, and eventually worked out that if we beat Tunisia, and eke out a point against Denmark and France do their job for us and with the Saudis looking good in their group, we dodge Argentina in the round of 16 and cruise into the last eight.
I love these days of endless football.
I love World Cups!
Full episode with Santo and Joe Simon
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Check out Joe’s Inside Football podcast. It’s such a shame there’s no Santo Sam and Ed’s Cup Fever this time. What a show that was.
One of my memories of doing the segments for that show, South Africa 2010:
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