Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Food in Belgium

What are the typical dishes in Belgium?

The great thing about traveling outside of our country is that we can try new things, like food. Trying new food is an amazing experience. Personally, I love food; but, I am not a fantastic cook. I know how to cook a few dishes that come out really great; unfortunately, I do not have patience to follow directions; so, here we go to amazing food in Belgium.

Food is important in Belgium

For Belgians, food is essential. They spend a lot of money on food and take pride and pleasure in shopping, preparing, consuming and discussing food. For many, Belgian food is thought to be one of the finest cuisines in the world. Large portions and good quality make the meals very hearty. There are many kinds of informal foods such as chips, beers, salads, and stews that might be considered to be typical of Belgium.

Medieval cookery still influences the cuisine that today adds the flavors of mustard's, vinegars, and dried fruits that lend a sweet-sour and sweet-salty flavor to dishes. Almonds and spices are used in abundance, and fresh herbs lace appetizers, salads, meats, and even desserts. Belgians love potatoes and are fond of game and meat as well. Hearty soups play a big role, and the so called waterzooies are the most typical.

Another specialty are mussels! The country is famous for its mussels and frites (French-fried potatoes). My favorite was the "Mussels from Brussels", a provincial stew full of mussels in the shell. Belgium is also popular for having some of the best homemade chocolates. You will likely find a little specialty chocolate store on every corner.

Beer is an especially important element of a Belgian meal with over 800 distinct brands, this drink brings a special dimension to a Belgium meal. Many beers are crafted by small artisan brewers whose family recipes go back generations. Beer also laces the national dish, "Carbonates Flamandes," a Flemish beef stew. In Belgium, more beer is consumed than wine.

Finally, we can't forget about Belgium Waffles - yum.

Few Belgium cookbooks exist, but the newly published volume," Everybody Eats Well in Belgium" by Ruth Van Werebeek (Workman) covers recipes from three generations of her family.
So, in Travel Secrets tradition, let's look at a few of my favorite foods.

Brussels Style Waffles (Gaufres de Bruxelles)


These waffles are rectangular and are often with a light dusting of powdered sugar or topped with whipped cream and strawberries.  They have a light texture and taste that comes from the yeast-leavened batter they are made from. You can pick out the ones you want by sight!

Liege Style Waffles (Gaufres de Liege)


Liege style waffles are the most commonly seen waffle in Belgium.  They are quickly identifiable by their uneven edges and the sweet bits of caramelized pearl sugar. These are typically served by street vendors and eaten by hand; however, you will find a number of shops and bakeries selling them as well. Being a Choclaholic, my first one was with whipped cream, and chocolate laced together.

Other favorites are:

Paling in't groen - This favorite is eel served with mixed herbs in a green sauce.

Salade Liegeoise - A salad consisting of bacon pieces, onions, green beans and vinegar.

Tartines - This Belgian dish contains slices of bread covered with a spread such as soft cheese or pâté. It is eaten with a knife and fork and served on a board.

Tomate - Crevette - This is a commonly enjoyed snack made of small shrimp and mayonnaise stuffed into a tomato.

Waterzooi - Thick soup made of fish or chicken, and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and leeks. It also contains cream and eggs.

Pensen or Boudins - A sausage with meat mixed with breadcrumbs. It is commonly enjoyed with apple sauce and potatoes and is sometimes barbecued or eaten raw.

Vlaamse stoofkarbonaden - This dish is actually Flemish. It is a beef stew with beer.

Stoemp - This is a commonly found Belgian food that is made of mashed potatoes, vegetables, spices, herbs, bacon and cream. In this photo Stoemp accompanies sausage.

Mosselen- friet - This commonly found dish is made of mussels and French fries.

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