In Belgium, the food culture also differs depending on the region, especially between South of Wallonie and the North of Flanders. Of course all over the Belgium, it safely can be said that they love fries and beers! So this time, let’s have a bit further look what is the unique Belgium traditional dishes before you visit there.
As mentioned above, there are the Belgium speciality food other than fries. But how can we start talking about the Belgium food culture before explaining Belgian fries? There may be something you still don’t know about fries in Belgium. The Belgian fries are First of all, it is quite common that the fries are served besides the meal such as steaks, and it is also very popular to be served in a “puntzak(cornet de frites)”, a cone-shaped white piece of thick paper. And the authentic Belgian fries will not be served with ketchup but with mayonnaise. Since this fries culture is very well developed, you can find many sorts of mayonnaise in a supermarket.
There are numbers of shops called “frituur(friterie)” in Belgium as well as in the Netherlands. This is a special shop/food truck which specializes for the deep fried food Here is some recommendations so that you can have some ideas to choose from such a varieties
1. FRIKANDEL: This is one of the most popular frie in Belgium and you never miss in any fries shops. It’s a minced-meat hot dog. According to a historical cook book ‘De verstandige kok’, the history goes back to the 17th century.
2.GEHAKTBAL: “gehakt” in Dutch means minced-meat. As you might have noticed, many of the fries are made with minced meat. So this is a miced meat ball which is very good portion for snacks, usually served 6 balls.
3.KROKET: Kroket(croquette) varies from the one in a fancy restaurant and to the one of frituur.
For any kinds of fries, there usually are two kinds, the normal one and the one added crispy crunches on the surface. and you can also find a “vleesmuur(meat wall, Dutch slang)” which is very typical in Belgium and local experience for you.
If you don't enjoy beers in Belgium, you are missing most of the enjoyable part of trip in Belgium!! There are countless numbers of beers which varies in taste, flavor, and color, and the glasses. Each beer has its own glasses and the production varies since Belgium has no law which limits ingredients. Depending on your meal or how you feel like, you can try at least a few glasses of beers every day!
Mussels with fries is a classic dish and can be found at any brasserie. While French mussels are usually made with white wines, as you can guess, Belgian mussels are made with beers! The Belgian mussels have been eaten at home for the reasonable alternative of fished during the winter when there was a shortage of fish. Mussels have a very long season except for spring after April. And when you eat Mussels, if you want to be like a local Belgians, you shall enjoy eating mussels with empty mussel shell to pick the shellfish.
Stoofvlees is a Flemish speciality made with dark Belgian beers. It takes some hours to cook this cuisine since we need to leave it on low heat for a few hours if we want to make the stew a rich taste and tender beef. This again also comes with Belgian fries.
It's a typical plate in Belgium which is usually served with fries or mashed potatoes, with tomatoes sauce. 'Boulet de viande' is literally meatballs but it would be served bigger than you would expect. 'Boulets à la liégeoise' is the most famous one.
Traditionally, in summer on the coast of Oostduinkerke, grey shrimps were harvested along the coast, from France to the Netherlands, by fishermen on horseback. And this shrimp fishing on horseback in Oostduinkerke is on the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Tomaat Garnaal (Tomate-crevette)
The grey shrimp goes really well with creamy sauces as well as mayonnaise. Tomato shrimp is one of our recommendations.
In Belgium, you can get many good croquettes. Although they are sometimes a little expensive for its small portion, they usually are very creamy and it smoothly melts in your mouth. We would recommend garnaalkroket which is rich in taste with the grey crevette and you will immediately fall in love.
Belgium is very well known for its waffles and you can find many waffle stands or small shops. But did you know that there are actually two types of waffles? Here is the differences of these two waffles.
Brussels waffle (right on the picture)
The first clear difference of this waffle than any other kinds of waffles are its square shape. The Brussels waffle, to be the best, is crispier on the outside and airier on the inside. Simply the fine sugar on the top of it is already tasty but you can also try icecream, chocolate sauce, caramel syrup on it, etc.
The Liege waffle (left on the picture)
The shape is rounded as the ones sold in any kinds of shops, but once you know the texture and taste, you are gonna love it. On contrast of Brussels waffle with its crunchy texture, it is soft, and the dough itself taste very much that you don’t even need put much sauce on it.
Needless to say, you should try a lot of chocolates from the ones at supermarkets, to a little expensive but great ones. In Belgium, the composition of Belgian chocolate has been regulated with a minimum level of 35% pure cocoa thus Belgian chocolates in general are very rich in taste.
Though this is not very known for tourists, cuberdon is a Belgian sweet speciality candy with gooey arabic gum in. The most traditional and basic one is raspberry flavour with purple color. You can buy at supermarkets, or from venders truck like in Ghent, or sometimes you will find cuberdons at restaurants.
Words and Photographs by Leona Fujii