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Freeform Friday: Seattle food stuff starting XI

You better believe terikyaki has a spot on our team.

Daisha N./Yelp

Look, there’s not a lot of soccer going on these days and we realize this is definitely NOT soccer. But it’s Friday and we saw posts kinda like this one circulating around Twitter, so we figured we may as well take our shot. This is our starting XI of “Seattle food stuffs.”

GK: Geoduck

The geoduck got its name from the Nisqually Tribe, who coined the term gʷídəq, which means “dig deep.” And in the game of soccer, there’s one position that is frequently asked to dig deep to help its team survive: the firmly planted goalkeeper. With a neck that can extend about 3 feet, this shot-stopping clam should not be underestimated. Goalkeeper can be a lonely position, but that’s where the geoduck thrives. It is happiest on its own, rooted in one spot underground in the glorious Puget Sound. You need to be a certain level of weird to play goalkeeper, and the geoduck certainly has that going for it. It’s only fitting Evergreen State College made the clam its mascot. Few predators have proved capable of dislodging a geoduck, a big reason the clam lives about 140 years, on average. Sound similar to a certain MLS club? Here’s to a happy 140 years of blocking opponents. - Susie

LB: Smoked Salmon

Modern fullbacks can be asked to do everything from being a third central defender, sliding centrally to join the midfield, or bombing forward to be the modern interpretation of a winger. That’s quite a change from the two fullbacks in a 2-3-5. Smoked salmon offers similar versatility. You can eat it as-is for a main course. Slice it thin or crumble it on your cream cheese bagel. Fold it into scrambled eggs. Use it as a filling for a ravioli. Or maybe best of all, make a smoked salmon chowder. The Nisqually and other tribes were smoking salmon before Seattle even existed. Like the fullback, it’s been here since the beginning, but no one could have imagined all the ways it would end up being used. - Andrew

CB: Seattle dog

At first blush there’s something that doesn’t seem quite right — or entirely make sense — about slathering cream cheese onto a flat-top-grilled hot dog and then adding a healthy dose of caramelized onions. That may help explain why this regional delicacy has not really expanded to many other locales. But boy does it work, especially if you’re wandering out of a bar at 2 a.m. To get the full experience, the dog should be split in two and served inside a toasted bun with enough heft to support the weight (the original bread was apparently a biali). The Seattle dog is perfectly comfortable locking down the backline as a centerback. - Jeremiah

CB: Craft beer

Craft beer has been a crucial fixture in the Seattle food scene for 30-plus years. Our cold and wet winters mean we can bust out the heavy bourbon barrel-aged stouts, while our mild and clear summers mean the pilsners and hefeweizens get their time to shine. Oh, and we have plenty of IPAs to go year-round. Seattle didn’t invent craft beer, but we certainly made it better. A lot like Soccer, actually. Some cities are lucky to have one or two good breweries, but in Seattle, we have dozens. As a centerback, craft beer is the stalwart of the starting XI. It cleans up messes and provides a solid foundation for the rest of the XI to work. - Mark

RB: Beecher’s Mac ‘n Cheese

Beecher’s may appear to be your average artisan cheese maker with its Pike Place location and old timey logo, but look behind the curtain and you’ll find a very modern operation using pasteurized milk, high-tech production techniques, and even going so far as to own their own dairy cows and farms to ensure the consistency of their milk. The fullback has probably been the position that has changed the most in modern football, which is a perfect fit for Beecher’s modern techniques. A good fullback is often very underrated. Sure you can win with the stuff out of the blue box, but wouldn’t you rather have the “World’s Best” Mac ‘n Cheese? - Andrew

DM: Teriyaki

In 1976 Toshi Kasahara opened up Seattle’s first Teriyaki shop. If you’ve lived in Seattle for any amount of time you probably are imagining a styrofoam clamshell filled with chargrilled sliced chicken thigh, sweet brown sauce, a scoop of rice, and an iceberg lettuce salad with a sweet miso dressing, even if those containers have been outlawed for years. Toshi may have been from Japan and you can still eat his food at his shop in Mill Creek, but Seattle Teriyaki is it’s own thing; as anyone who’s had their first taste of bibimbap or bulgogi from a Teriyaki shop can attest to. There have been many stories about Teriyaki’s decline in the Seattle food scene, but like any good grizzled defensive midfielder it just keeps hanging around and producing. - Andrew

MF: Walla Walla onions

A lot of places grow sweet onions and have a claim to their own distinct variety, but few are as clean-tasting or have the history of Washington’s state vegetable, the Walla Walla onion. Born of seeds brought from Corsica with a French soldier who immigrated to the inland Northwest in the early 1900s, the Walla Walla is a unique combination of years of selection for the biggest, sweetest onions, and the distinct volcanic terrior of the region, which lacks the sulfur that gives most onions their sharp, bitter taste. You can buy seeds claiming to be Walla Wallas in many shops, but you won’t get the same onion if you grow it elsewhere. They’re the homegrown box-to-box midfielder who doesn’t put up flashy numbers on their own and who national pundits think could be easily replaced by a dozen other players from around the league, but who does so many little things right that are appreciated by local fans and teammates. Walla Wallas are a key supporting player in a great summer cookout — throw some on the grill with a dash of olive oil and add them to your burgers or sausage, or chop some up raw and put them in your favorite salad. They enhance everything around them. - Steve

RW: Cosmic Crisp apples

New York grows a lot of apples, as does Michigan. But Washington grows 58% of the country’s apples and 68% of those intended for fresh consumption. While Minnesota’s Honeycrisp was the darling apple for the past few years, it’s about to be overtaken by the Cosmic Crisp. It’s also the first apple to be bred entirely in Washington State. Do you really need to say anything else? The speed at which the Cosmic Crisp went from nowhere to everywhere is the same speed it will bring as it bombs down the wings. - Andrew

CAM: Dick’s

There are, unquestionably, better tasting burgers in Seattle than Dick’s. The bun is unspectacular, the meat is usually dry and they won’t even allow you to customize your order. But go there any night of the week and you’ll find a crowd of mostly locals. The reality is that sometimes we don’t want a perfect burger, we want predictability. Say whatever you want about Dick’s warts, but you know exactly what you’re going to get. There’s something about a Dick’s burger that just feels comfortable. It is, simply, iconic and will fit in perfectly as our No. 10. - Jeremiah

LW: Coffee

There may be more cities connected to coffee in the world — Mokka, Constantinople, Vienna, maybe Paris and Milan, but I’m not willing to grant those. It was Seattle that took a style of European coffee and made it a phenomenon. An entire roasting style, for all its warts and loves, is defined by Starbucks, but is also the style of Darte, SBC, Torrefazione Italia, Umbria, and so many others that we’d run out of space. Our coffee is the fuel that speeds our impressive morning starts even when the East Coast demands a 7 a.m. call, the afternoon meetup, or a late night date after a show. We drink coffee like most of the world drinks water. And then we found ways to add coffee to just about everything else, too. Coffee is our blood stream, and we defined an American coffee habit that started in the ‘90s and now is so self-referential it might be parody, except for the fact that the whole world knows our roasts. Whether the inverted winger of a blond roast with all its delicate balance, or the straight, raw power of a dark roast, there’s one truth when it comes to coffee — it’s Seattle’s own. - Dave

FW: Rainier cherries

Like a mercurial striker who can do amazing things but often disappears from games for long stretches of time, Rainier cherries pop on the scene and completely overshadow the competition for a few months every summer, only to vanish again as suddenly as they arrive. Developed in Washington in the early 1950s, Rainiers are bigger, juicier, and sweeter than their more common dark red counterparts, and they command a premium price. Their flamboyant bright red and yellow skin helps them stand out and makes them easy to spot in a crowd. They’re demanding of the soil and weather they’re grown in, need to be hand-picked to avoid bruising, and require extensive netting to guard against birds devouring entire trees, but the measures farmers will go to in order to grow them says a lot about how incredible they are, and is in part why they’re the only cherry with their own national holiday. - Steve

Do you agree with our selections? What would be on your list? Feel free to fill out your own ballot here.

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