Since human civilisation, culinary art has been an integral part of people. Food tells so much of a country’s history, culture and its people. For us, food is a very important element of travelling. We often find if the place doesn’t offer good food (i.e something unique of the place), it would feel like something is missing.
Moules-frites (Mussels and fries)
To certain extent, Moules-frites is the national dish of Belgium, just like how Fish & chips is for Britain. Many theories surrounding on why frites are so popular in Belgium. Some have suggested this maybe because that the Belgian farmers were the firsts to embrace potato farming, hence the early access. Yet, some have stated that the frites were suppose to be substitutes of fish back in the 18th century.
As for the mussles, just like Lobster, they were food for the poor, but gradually became the national staple.
Nearly all restaurants in Brussels serve Moules-frites, typically cooked with leeks, shallots, a knob of butter and some white wine in a casserole pot. The easiest way to eat the mussels, just pick the shells up with your fingers.
There are in fact two types of waffles: Brussels waffle and Liege waffle. The former is thinner and lighter, and generally rectangular in shape. Whereas the Liege waffle is stickier and more irregular in shape. Both can be topped with variety of items: strawberry, banana, chocolate, cream… Or can be eaten plain with a simple dusting of sugar.
Can you tell which is the Brussels waffle and which is the Liege waffle from the above two photos?
Personally, I have enjoyed the Liege waffle more. Of course, different people might like different things.
Belgium is not only a country of waffles, mussels and chips. The country is also famous for its beer, especially beer traditionally brewed by monks. This type of beer is called Trappist beer. There are in total 11 Trappist breweries world wide, with six located in Belgium. The tradition started after the first crusade, as an effort to fundraise for churches and abbeys. To be classified as Trappist brewery, it has to satisfy the following criteria:
“The beer must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision.”
“The brewery must be of secondary importance within the monastery and it should witness to the business practices proper to a monastic way of life”
“The brewery is not intended to be a profit-making venture. The income covers the living expenses of the monks and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Whatever remains is donated to charity for social work and to help persons in need. “(ref Wikipedia)
I am not a beer connoisseur; however, I can tell you the beer I had (Trappist Rochefort) did have a distinctive flavour. I recommend you try them out, especially if you are a beer fan. There are different types suiting different tastes.
Here is a list of Trappist producers in Belgium:
Fondue: very fun to do.
On our last day in Brussels, my boyfriend wanted to pig out. We got our eyes on Lyly’s Fondue, which was all you can eat. We know the cuisine is not exactly Belgian, but originated from Switzerland. However, we never had savoury fondue before, so were very curious.
The fondue we had is called Fondue bourguignonne, which included cooking meat in hot oil. On the side, there were different types of dipping sauces and fries. It was a perfect food combination for the cold weather at the time.
Conclusion: the fondue was very fun to do. No wonder they named in ‘Fun-do’. Now, need to find a similar place in London. Thus concluded our last day in Brussels, the next stop is Antwerp.