Every four years, certain events bring people together. I'm thinking presidential elections, leap year birthdays, and the Olympics. But nothing in mankind's history catalyzes and captivates quite like my favorite quadrennial occasion—the FIFA World Cup.

Every four years, Earth is whittled down (after three years of qualifying games) to 32 national teams, all clamoring to hoist the FIFA World Cup Trophy as the best country in the world's most popular sport. After four long years of waiting, this tournament begins anew tomorrow in Brazil. This event is mercurial. It's electric. It's tantalizing. It's sensational.

But why, you ask, is a food magazine writing about it?

Good question. First and foremost, I am a fútbol junkie (see?! I even spelled it right). Watching it mesmerizes me, and playing it, which I've done since I was six… well, let's just say I'll be that guy challenging my grandkids to pickup games. I love everything about the sport—the chess-like game strategies, the sustained action throughout (not like this jazz), the ridiculous haircuts—I could go on and on, but long story short, I live, breathe, eat, and sleep the World Cup.

The reason I'm writing a 26-post blog series, though, isn't just a thinly-veiled excuse to watch every game that occurs while I'm on the clock (wink). It's because, like the delicious recipes we create and share here at Cooking Light, the World Cup brings people together. And it brings people together unlike anything in the brief blip of humanity's existence. Food for thought: the tournament's broadcast in over 200 countries and the last World Cup Final (Spain vs. Netherlands, South Africa 2010) was viewed by over 750 million people. When this tournament rolls around, it captures the hearts and minds of our entire planet. How amazing is that?

One month. One world brought together.                         

The World Cup brings the world together as one and, likewise, we wanted to bring you together—with food—in celebration of this monumental event. Every match-day, I'll be posting a new blog, highlighting a particular national team. I'll provide a brief preview of the match, highlight a key player, and predict a winner. Now, here comes the fun part: I'll also post one of our recipes that's indigenous to the highlighted country for you to cook at home. Much like the World Cup inspires, I'm hopeful that these recipes provide inspiration for those of us with a passion for soccer and cooking.

Many of us at Cooking Light will be cooking these recipes and posting photos to our Instagram account, where we're also hosting a contest (details here). We invite you to join us in cooking these or other recipes that bring you national pride as you support your respective team on their journey to glory.

They call soccer "The Beautiful Game." Even if you're not inclined to agree, I encourage you to take part in this beautiful event. The World Cup is, after all, like a leap year birthday. Don't miss it.