Statistics show that the Belgium team has been a better performer compared to Brazil. It all boils down to Friday’s FIFA Football World Cup 2018 quarter-final match. It promises to be a nail-biting affair.
While you prep for the match, here is a lowdown on 5 of Belgium’s most popular culinary exports.
Mussels and fries. The combination of seafood with potatoes is a global phenomenon, take the British fish and chips as an example. In Belgium’s case, steamed mussels with fried potatoes have a cult status. The combination started as a way to feed empty stomachs—potatoes were chopped long and slim to vaguely resemble small fish and mussels are the region's easily accessible and cheap alternative to seafood. The humble food has upgraded since the World War I, finding a place in cafes and bistros.
The question is how does a sea creature find its way into the country? The answer traverses through the canals that run across Belgium and The Netherlands. Mussels are steamed in a base of shallots, garlic and wine and the fries are double fried.
These shortcrust biscuits are a Christmas special. According to folklore, these spiced biscuits are said to be Sinterklass or Saint Nicholas’ favourite. The tan-coloured biscuits come in all kinds of shapes and sizes with detailed patterns on them. The etymology of the name is derived from the Latin ‘speculum’, which means a mirror. In the case of these cookies or biscuits, it refers to the use of moulds to imprint the designs on the dough. The spices used to make the biscuits include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and ginger, and fill you with warmth on a cold winter day. These biscuits are available all over Belgium during the festive season.
Of all the Belgian beers, Chimay is by far the most famous of them all. It is a beer that is brewed inside the Scourmont Abbey by Trappist monks. There are only 11 breweries in the world where similar Trappist beers are made. These beers follow very strict rules—one of them is the fact that the beers are sold only for financial support to the monastery and charitable causes. Any profits made from the sale of Chimay is distributed to charities. Chimay is known for three kinds of ale—Chimay Rouge, Chimay Bleue, and Chimay Blanche. If you’re ever in the vicinity, make a beeline to their visitor centre.
In Belgium, waffles come devoid of the paraphernalia we call toppings—no sugar syrup and no whip cream—the Liège waffles can be found at every street corner. This particular batter is doughy with granulated sugar which when it hits the griddle caramelises. The topping-laden waffle we are familiar with, is known as Brussels Waffles. The airy batter makes all the difference. The global popularity of this sweet-savoury dish started with Maurice Vermersch during the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York. We’d suggest not to take sides, and try both styles. You’ll be in for a treat!
Chocolate has been an important part of Belgium’s economy since the 19th century. Belgian chocolates are considered the epitome of quality chocolate despite the fact that the basic raw material, cacao, does not grow in the nation. Belgium chocolates also have a dark past with their colonial rule over the Belgian Congo. It was from this region they procured the cacao needed for the confections. To sample the best of Belgian chocolates, try the pralines, truffles and figurines from family-run small-scale set-ups. It is the processing and flavours that they are able to capture in these that make the chocolates so incredible. The pralines are known for their soft centres that hold anything from nuts, caramel to cream and marzipan. A truffle is a chocolate ganache rolled in chopped nuts or cocoa powder.
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