Have you ever been to Bruges. In Belgium?
Last week I told you that The Tall Young Gentleman and I went to Bruges.
Horror of horrors.
We flew with Ryanair.
Bruges, otherwise known as Brugge (Dutch) or Bruges (French), is the capital and largest city of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium!
Belgium, otherwise known as the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in the Western part of Europe, unlike Croatia which is in the Balkans, Latvia which is in Central Europe or Poland which is in the Eastern part of Europe!
It’s a very small country and has a population of just eleven (11) million people!
Culturally, Belgium is Dutch-speaking (59%), French-speaking (40%), and if it couldn’t get more complicated, German-speaking (1%) too!
The Dutch-speakers tend to be Flemish and live in a region called the Flanders, the French-speakers are Walloon, and the German-speakers are the minority, who live around the borders of Belgium close to Germany!
Belgium is, like Switzerland, officially bilingual being Flemish (Dutch-speaking) and French, and known as being from the Low Countries, or the Benelux group of states, consisting of Northern France, West Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium itself.
So let’s have a look at Belgian food shall we?
9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!
Now because of this marvellous mix of cultures and languages, Belgian food is an eclectic mix of Flemish, French & German cuisine. However, outside of the country itself, Belgium is famously known for its mussels, chocolate, waffles, chips or fries.
“Belgian food,” otherwise known as dishes of Belgian origin, or thought of as “typically Belgian,” uses items such as potatoes, leeks, white asparagus, Belgian endives, otherwise known as witloof or witlof (Dutch) or chicory!
And of course, staples such as meat, cheese, butter, and beer!
In my opinion, the biggest traditional dish that you can ever have in Belgium is Moules-frites, moules et frites or mosselen-friet (Dutch), but known to you and me, as mussels and chips (fries)!
Fresh mussels caught from the sea.
Not only are mussels a most popular traditional dish, but they’re also considered to be the national dish of Belgium!
Mussels or moules are usually cooked or steamed as:
- Moules natures: Mussels, celery, leeks and butter, steamed in a pot
- Moules marinière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of white wine
- Moules à la crème: Mussels in a pot of white wine stock, thickened with flour and cream
- Moules parquées: Raw mussels on half a shell, served with a lemon-mustard sauce (very common in Brussels)
- Moules à la bière: Mussels, shallots, parsley and butter, in a pot of beer!
- Moules à l’ail: Mussels in a pot of sliced or minced garlic
- Mosselsaus: Mussels in a pot of mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar!
- Mussels in a pot of espelette pepper, Pernod liquor, or tomato sauce
and served with a huge bowl of frites, also known as chips or fries!
In fact, the last time I went to Brittany, I took the ferry on a day trip to Jersey where the locals speak both French and English, and you can use either pounds or Euros.
It’s a very nice island!
But I digress.
Did you know that mussels and chips were invented in Belgium?
We went to this nice restaurant on the riverside next to the fish market called Old Bruges.
I was actually looking for the number eight (8) best seafood restaurant in Bruges called De Gouden Karpel, Vismarkt, but because it was low season, it was closed!
On looking around, I found this one!
Old Bruges looked pretty alright to me, and most importantly, it was the only restaurant at the fishmarket that was actually opened!
I don’t tend to use TripAdvisor for food recommendations as taste vary, but if you do, keep an open mind as the reviews are terrible. Having said that, we went there and the food and service was pretty alright!
This Boterhammen or Tartine is not really a meal per se, but more of a snack. It’s a type of butterbröt and a meal that you would find in many European countries.
Traditionally, it’s a slice of rustic bread served on a wooden board, with a dollop of some sort of ingredient spread all over it such as butter, jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, smoked salmon, anchovies, cold cuts with radishes, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard or mayonnaise, as well as slices of boiled egg topped with caviar, and of course, pâté!
Some people think that a boterhammen is equivalent to a sandwich, but it isn’t!
A sandwich has two pieces of bread and something in the middle put together. A boterhammen is a single slice of open bread often served with a glass of Gueuze – a fermented Belgian champagne beer – usually found in Brussels!
We had decided not to include breakfast at our beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal, ‘cos the breakfast buffet cost a whopping €22.00, and this wasn’t that type of holiday!
As such, we were pretty famished by lunch-time and saw Der Vier Winden just off the Market Square!
From the outside, the restaurant looked really touristy, and it was. So we ordered the lunch menu!
Our starter was the boterhammen or tartine with pâté.
Our pâté was served with pickles, and a side salad with a dollop of mayonnaise!
3. EEL IN THE GREEN:
The eels are made into a type of stew and served with bread or a bowl of frites, and a cold glass of beer!
You can usually find this dish at fishmongers, in market stalls, or even ready-made!
There’s no point beating about the bush here, everyone loves chips, otherwise known as fries!
Of course, in Belgium it’s called frites!
However, at the Friet Museum / Fries Museum, we learnt all about the history of the Belgian chip. As well as sampling it too!
Frites or friets plays an important role in Belgian culture and cuisine.
The secret of the Belgian chip is :
- The type of potato used – Preferably a bintje potato
- The fat or oil used – Unrefined beef tallow or blanc de boeuf
- Freshly cooked potatoes, rather than raw
- High temperatures – 190 °C or 374 °F
- And the importance of double-frying!
None of your low-fat-low-starch content here!
Waterzooi, otherwise known as Gentse Waterzooi, is a dish of stew that was invented in the Belgian town of Ghent!
Waterzooi is traditionally a stew made from freshwater fish, otherwise known as Viszooitje.
However, due to the scarcity of burbot and over-fishing, waterzooi or Kippenwaterzooi, is commonly made from a combination of boiled chicken, vegetable broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, swede, leeks, cream and eggs, instead!
A waffle is a dish made from leavened batter or dough that is cooked between two plates, and patterned to give a characteristic size, shape, and surface impression.
Waffles are eaten all over the world, but one of the most important types of waffle is known as the Belgian waffle or Brussels waffles, which was actually invented in Ghent (1839)!
It became world-famous when the restaurateur Maurice Vermersch, sold his Brussels waffles in America under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” in 1964, and thus, the American Belgian waffle was born!
Waffle is derived from the Dutch word wafel, or wafele, but was first heard as the French word walfre, as far back as 1185, meaning honeycomb or cake!
There are a variety of waffles such as:
- Traditional Bergische waffles
- Flemish waffles, or Gaufres à la Flamande
- Liège waffles
- Brussels waffles
- Galettes campinoises
- Belgian waffles
- American waffles
In Belgium, waffles are street food and can be eaten plain, with powdered sugar, whipped cream, strawberries, cherries, soft berries, syrup, or chocolate (American style)!
Being that it’s a Belgian dish, the traditional name of rabbit stew is Konijn in geuze or Lapin à la gueuze, which basically means rabbit stewed in Gueuze, a fermented Belgian champagne beer, usually found in Brussels!
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m very reluctant to eat fluffy animals, so in our household, we call rabbit – “pork!”
Don’t get me started.
You all know how I detest chocolate...
However, for the integrity of this article, chocolate had to be added.
Belgian chocolate, otherwise known as chocolat belge or Belgische chocolade is chocolate produced in the country of Belgium!
Belgian chocolate goes as far back as 1635! In fact, by the mid-18th century, chocolate had become so popular among the aristocracy, that hot chocolate became de rigueur as to who could actually drink it!
Chocolate plays an important part in the Belgian economy, and there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country, with 172,000 tonnes produced each year, exported all over the world and shaped like sea shells, fish, diamonds and artistic creations that can be bought at town centres, market stands, and pretty much every village shop in Belgium!
If you’re a fan, you know what to do, so don’t let me stop you from visiting the Choco-Story / Chocolate Museum, and of course, you ought to get yourself some chocolate truffles.
I bought a packet of organic milk chocolate Belgian thins. With almonds and toasted coconut chips (Yuk!) for my husband. Cost: €5.90
That’s all I have to say!
9. BELGIAN BEER:
On the other hand, when we went to Der Vier Winden, my Stella beer cost a mere €3.50!
Son had an iced-tea. Cost: €3.75
He also had a Canada Dry. Cost €:4.00!
WHERE DID WE STAY?
We stayed at the beautiful 4-star hotel – Martin’s Relais which was right next to the canal.
In fact, it’s historical name is Oud Huis Amsterdam – and between you and me, the view is very much like being in Holland!
Without the seedy bits!
I booked the Comfort Twin Room for character, as it featured high ceilings, a garden, a walk-in closet, river views, lots of space and free WiFi!
I thought it was a brilliant choice.
Cost: €97.62 per night. For two people, easily €48.81 a pop!
You can book Martin’s Relais here or in the banner link below!
9 TRADITIONAL THINGS TO EAT & DRINK IN BELGIUM. WITH MUSSELS!
This article is not sponsored, and all opinions and the delightful mussels and frites we devoured, are my very own!
I’ve got fantastic news. Find out more, next week!
I’ll be continuing my last visit to the UK and telling you all about it, later in the season!
Can you guess where it was?
If you’re not in Berlin in April, you’re craaaazy!
Spring’s finally here!
That’s it for now.
We had a great time in Belgium.
See you next week!
Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.
I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!
Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links, I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!
A win-win for all!
Thanks a million!
Have you ever had Belgian food? Do you like mussels and chips, or would you prefer waffles? Can you guess which new country I went to? Let me know in your comments below!
See you in Berlin.
If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!