It’s a common thing to go chocolate-shopping when you first go to Belgium. You’ll see chocolates everywhere – in stores, street stalls, and tourist destinations. There are numerous locations around the world associated with famous food and drink – such as Champagne in France, the Cornish pasty in Cornwall, the samosa in Delhi and tapas in Madrid – but none of them are as sweet as Belgium.
The association of Belgium with chocolate started way back, during the 17th century when chocolates were first brought to Europe. It became a huge hit and Belgium was one of the countries that made it a big industry. But did you know that the chocolate didn’t exactly originate in Belgium? You read that right, Belgian chocolate does not necessarily mean that Belgium has its own kind of chocolate. It’s just a loose term for any chocolate manufactured in the country.
While there’s a lot of excitement when it comes to Belgium’s chocolate industry, there are a lot of other dishes in the country worth sinking your teeth into. The problem is that not a lot of people are familiar with Belgian food let alone know where they can get these foods. Because of that, this list is supposed to help you look for these drinks and dishes the next time you go to Belgium.
Belgian fries can easily be considered as the national dish of the country because it’s always around. The way the Belgians cook their fries is different from other countries (so don’t call it “french fries”) because of how they cook it. The trick for creating perfect Belgian fries is by frying the cut potatoes twice. The traditional packaging of fries is paper shaped like a cone. Once you taste Belgian fries, you’ll never go back to the other kinds of fries.
If there’s a national dish, then there’s also a national snack. Speculoos, the treat that is often made on St. Nicholas’ Day on December 6, are small spiced biscuits made from cinnamon, ginger, pepper, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. These spices when joined together create a harmony that you can eat along with your bread or you can dip on your tea or coffee. Today, you can see speculoos biscuits packed in easy-to-eat cuts.
Whenever it’s summer season in Belgium, mussels become the star dish. Mussels in this country are often cooked with beer or wine. One of the famous mussel dishes is accompanied by fries and wine. You can also ask for dipping sauce which is usually garlic cream.
Another must-try Belgium dish is the stoemp. It’s made of mashed potatoes with spices topped with carrots, onions, and Brussel sprouts. It can be eaten both as a side dish or a meal. When it’s a meal, it’s often paired with bacon or fried eggs, and sausages.
And for the must-try drink, you should take a sip of jenever, a juniper-flavored gin that is also the traditional drink in Belgium and the Netherlands. Its taste varies depending on what you buy – jonge jenever tastes like vodka, while oude jenever tastes maltier. On special occasions, they are also served in shot glasses and more flavors are served. Go to Belgium at Christmas and you just might take a sip o their chocolate or passion fruit-tasting gin.