When you think of Belgium what do you think of?
Rubens? Diamonds? The home of the EU? A country that exists with little to no government? Well those are all things that Belgium is famous for… but would you think of it as a famous FOOD destination?
I didn’t think so.
And yet Belgium is one of the best places in the world to gorge yourself on all things delicious. It has everything, from high dining – Belgium has several award winning Michelin restaurants, to delicious comfort foods. From deserts to drinks. Belgium is my waist lines worst nightmare.
Mussels are Begiums national dish (yup thats right… its not fries), and most Mussels come from the north sea. They are served up in pretty much every way you can think. Mussels is beer, mussels in wine, mussels with french fries. There are a million restaurants where you can get yourself a typical kilo of mussels, but the most famous one in Brussels is Chez Leon.
Frites (French Fries)
French fries are what should really be Belgiums national food. Belgians take great pride in their excellent frites which are available at any time of the day and can be found anywhere in Belgium. Of course, if you are eating frites in Belgium you have to eat them the traditional way, with mayonnaise. And once you try frites with mayo, you definitely wont ever go back.
There are two main types of waffles in Belgium and they are both totally different from each other. The Brussels waffle is the most common type of waffle found outside of Belgium. These are the large rectangular, fluffy and light waffles served with fruit and creme.
The Leige waffle is typically a flatter type of waffle whose key ingredient is pearl sugar. The waffle is cooked in such a way to make the pearl sugar caramelize making the waffle crunchy and sticky and very very sweet.
My favourite type of waffle is the Leige waffle.
I bet you haven’t heard of this one before. Speculoos is pretty much the most amazing thing that comes in a jar. Speculoos was traditionally a type of spiced shortbread cookie, which has now been ingeniously developed into a nutella spread alternative. You can find speculoos flavoured everything – speculoos ice cream, speculoos cheesecake, speculoos chocolate. If you are in Belgium do yourself a favour and buy yourself a jar to take home.
Sources have mixed information, but there are at least 180 breweries in the small country of Belgium. Belgium beer is amazing. To prove my point – I didn’t like beer until I moved to Belgium. And now I am a huge connoisseur of the stuff. All thanks to Belgium.
Some varieties of beer you must try while in Belgium are:
- Kriek : A type of cheery beer. In fact it was this type of beer that began my appreciation of the drink
- Trappist beer: Six of the eight monasteries which meet the Trappist certifications are in Belgium and brew some pretty special beers. Some of my favourite Trappist beers are Chimay and Orval.
- Gueze: Gueze is a type of beer which is fermented using natural yeast found in the air, and does not have yeast explitictly added to it. There is only one place where this type of traditional geuze can still be tasted is the Brasserie Cantillon Brouwerij
Jenever is a type of spirit made from Juniper berries. There are many types of jenever, including creme jenever (like hazelnut, chocolate, and coconut), and fruit jenevers. Regular jenever is sort of similar to gin and frankly, I was always way to distracted by the delicious creme jenevers to spend much time with regular jenever.