9 Belgian Foods you Must Try When you Visit Belgium, Europe

Sunday, November 12, 2017

If beautiful cities like Bruges and Brussels weren't enough to entice you into going to Belgium, maybe the following foods will. Being half Belgian, I'm not going to dispute the fact that Belgian food is arguably one of the best in the world. Waffles and Belgian chocolate are my favourite (as well as the french fries...!) and here are 9 things that you simply must try if you go to Belgium - names are in Flemish and French as they're the two main languages in the country.

Eet smaakelijk | bon appétit! 

1) Mosselen | Moules | Mussels

Although this dish is super popular in France it actually originates in Belgium! In Belgian restaurants a portion for one person is normally 1.5kg of mussels, can be prepared in a number of different ways (usually with a white wine sauce) and normally comes with fries or frietjes/frites (check number 3)! On average 25-30 tonnes of mussels are consumed each year in Belgium and the Belgian artist Stromae even has a song called 'moules-fries', so you could say that the dish is pretty popular.

2) Biefstuk met bearnaisesaus | Steak à la sauce béarnaise | Steak with bearnaise sauce

Okay so this one technically is from France, but the Belgians do it so, so well and it is one of my absolute favourite dishes when I go back to Belgium. If you don't know what bearnaise sauce is, it's similar to hollandaise sauce and is made with a mix of butter, egg yolks, white wine vinegar and herbs such as tarragon - so an explosion of calories basically. So, so worth it though.

3) Frietjes | Frites | Fries

Although there has been a lot of dispute over the origin of frietjes or frites and despite the fact that they are called 'French fries' in English, many claim that the food originated in Belgium and that people have misunderstood the origin of the food due to the georgraphic proximity of the two countries.

My mum told me that the name 'French fries' came about in the second world war when there was no fish as it was rationed by mothers who had to improvise by cutting fish shapes out of potatoes and frying them to feed their kids - an American soldier saw this and, thinking he was in France, called them French fries. I'm not sure how true this story is but I know that they are super tasty and there's nothing better than a zak met frietjes with a massive dollop of mayonaise.

4) Dame Blanche 

Dame blanche (French for 'white lady') is a Belgian dessert which is vanilla ice cream with warm melted chocolate - it sounds simple but the warm chocolate is sometimes mixed with cream and it is incredible. Literally incredible.

5) Oliebollen (smoutebollen) | Croustillons 

This is a very popular Belgian and Dutch food which is essentially a deep fried ball of dough, covered in powdered sugar. In English they're literally translated as 'oil balls' but they are more commonly known as 'Dutch donuts'. They are traditionally eaten at New Year (see photo below of my friend and I after being way too excited about buying them on NYE) but around Christmas time you can find little mobile trucks selling them - definitely eat a couple, they're delicious, especially if they are still warm.

6) Bitterballen 

These are originally a Dutch (and north Belgian) snack which contain a kind of thick sauce and minced beef or veal which is then battered in a breadcrumb mixture, deep fried and enjoyed with mustard sauce.

7) Wafels | Gauffres | Waffles

I'm pretty sure that you all know what waffles are, and if you haven't tried Belgian waffles then you haven't lived.

8) Belgische bieren | Bières belges | Belgian beers 

There are around 180 breweries in Belgium and in 2016 Belgian beer made it onto the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. You've probably heard of Westmalle, Duvel, La Chouffe, Corsendonk, De Konink, Hoegaarden (obviously) and Leffe but why not try a couple of Belgium's other great beers? They've got loads of festivals on all the time, the perfect excuse to visit Belgium.

9) Chocolade | Chocolat | Chocolate 

And finally, leaving the best till last, Belgian chocolate. I've been raised to know that Belgian chocolate is the best in the world and you should all try some if you have the chance. My favourite store brand is 'Côte d'Or' and one of my favourite speciality shops is Leonidas because the pralines are amazing but do not break the bank. There are more expensive (and yummier) brands, of course, however Leonidas is my favourite!

Hope that you have the best time when you visit Belgium and that you get to try some of these iconic foods & beers! Let me know which one or ones are your favourites x

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  1. Ciao Alexandra! I just stopped by your blog to see how you're doing! I miss seeing you on IG! Hope all is well :) I haven't been to Belgium yet, but I definitely want to go for the chocolate & waffles alone! I never knew the story of why we call them French fries...now it all makes sense!