Cilic recently spoke to ATPTour.com about his cooking skills, guilt pleasures, his matchday food routine, food he hasn’t eaten in 10 years and more.
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Let’s say you have to cook tonight, either for yourself or for your friends. What do you cook and why?
I will cook veal. I like it so much and in Croatia it was unbelievable. Mix that with potatoes and vegetables in a nice sauce and it will melt in the fingers. Just eat the regular sauce that comes out of the meat. Leave the meat for a few hours, it’s great.
How would you rate your cooking skills?
I would say I’m a good cook for what I need to eat and that’s it! Eggs, crepe, pasta, rice and chicken. Carbohydrates, protein and that’s it.
What is your happiness with guilt?
I love burgers here and there. When I come to the US, the first meal is always a burger. Then if I happen to be in a good restaurant where I know the burgers are really good, that’s a cheat meal. for [something] Sweet, I love pancakes. It is not easy to find real crepes with Nutella and when I come home I have them.
What is your favorite meal the night before the game?
I’ll load up on carbs and eat a little protein. This is always chicken or turkey. It’s a little faster [to cook] It is red meat and contains slightly less fat. Before a game in Italy I like pasta with tomato sauce and a little chicken, 150g or so, so I have a little bit of protein and don’t get very hungry. Then if the match stretches in front of me, I eat another bowl of pasta.
This is Italy – it’s pasta. All other leagues are mostly rice. They don’t make pasta either, so I prefer rice elsewhere.
What do you eat right before the match and how many hours before the match do you eat it?
I usually eat an hour and a half to an hour and 15 minutes before I have a good meal. If the match extends, I may eat a banana or charge the main banana [meal] little bit.
What do you snack on during the game? Has that changed over the years and if so, what have you eaten before?
I have a very simple routine. I just drink my electrolytes and eat a carbohydrate gel and then eat a banana. I’m a simple guy, nothing fancy.
What would you eat during a week other than the tournament and not eat during the tournament?
When I’m at home, I’m relieved because I feel sad eating the same thing all the time. The worst thing about being a tennis player is when you have to eat and you are not ready to eat. For example, let’s say the match is at 12 noon, you have breakfast and then you warm up and then you need to eat before the game, like pasta or rice at 10:30 in the morning, and one of the hardest things is to be on tour.
I try to pay attention to the amount of carbs and protein but sometimes I forget about it. When I get home, I want to eat a pizza or something simple. In the evening I may eat three eggs with some cheese and ham, simple things. Also yogurt. It’s not easy eating big meals all the time.
If you went to one of your favorite restaurants, what would you order?
I love a good steak. There is an Italian restaurant in the house and they do huge portions and they know my stuff. Rice mixed with vegetables, carrots and chicken.
What would people be surprised to hear you enjoy?
This year in Australia, when we were there, we ordered Indian food maybe 10 times. Butter chicken and chicken biryani, and I enjoyed it.
When I got home I told my wife “okay we need to find a recipe for butter chicken” and she did and it was great. So this year, I ate a lot of Indian food.
What is the best meal from your culture/country?
Because Croatia is diverse, we have a lot. The Mediterranean is somewhat similar to Italy. Then the continental part is a little heavier. Then we have grill food and ground beef and food like this. It is very heavy food.
What foods do you refuse to eat?
This is fast food, I don’t like to eat it very much. I haven’t eaten anything fried in over 10 years. Nothing is fried. When I see it, I’m like “no”.