Belgium's probably not on your list of places to go if you're into food. It wasn't on mine, for sure. But in the days leading up to our trip there, I started thinking about what it'd be like and, true to my nature, what the food'd be like. All I kept thinking about, though, was waffles. I figured that I'd eat some big, ole', fat, Belgian waffles (like the ones we used to make at Nifty Fifties). But, more importantly, guess what I discovered also comes from Belgium!!!
FRENCH FRIES!!! Along with the namesake waffles, fries are everywhere!!! Here's a fry shop (Friterie) right next door to a waffle shop in historical area of Brussels:
In fact, the first thing we did (after Diana's appointment) on our first full day in town was try some fries at a little Friterie stand near the tram stop.
The guy working there was a character and we had fun ordering in a combination of Spanish, English, and German.
Fries in Belgium (and in Amsterdam, I'd later find out) are usually served in a paper cone and topped with mayonnaise or flavored-mayonnaise sauce. We opted for the Andaluse sauce this time, which was a slightly spicy one that we really liked. I know that for Americans the idea of mayo on your fries is a bit strange but I'm digging it. Even in Spain, a common topping for fries (or patatas bravas as they're called) is similar to this sauce.
As has been the case like when I didn't find pretzels at the Pretzelfest, or when I didn't see Perrier while in France, I didn't really know if they eat waffles in Belgium. Well, let me put that to rest...they do!
They're everywhere and seemed that people eat them like people in the United States would eat a doughnut, either as a breakfast food or a snack during the day. I came across this place (with a really strange character-based theme) near Manequin Pis that was selling them for 1 euro (about $1.30 U.S.). The kids were literally lined up to buy them.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is going to supermarkets to check out what they're selling. I went to three or four different ones on this trip but forgot to take photos until our last day when I ran into a Carrefour to take a picture of their waffle display area. Carrefour, which is a French supermarket chain kinda' like a Target and a supermarket fused into one, is not really the best representation of a Belgian supermarket but it'll have to do. As you can see, there are six different types of ready-made waffles in just this one photo in just this one store. Belgians seem to like their waffles!
I ended up trying a couple of different ready-made ones and these were my favorite. They come in a bag of five individually-wrapped waffles and they have this difficult-to-describe crunchy sugar (they call them sugar pearls) inside that are addictive.
I think I managed to polish off like ten of them (waffles, not bags!) in the few days that we were in Belgium. Breakfast each day looked something along the lines of this:
...and lunch looked a bit like this (fries with a "samurai" sauce in Ghent):
Belgium's also, obviously, known for its chocolate. Godiva is from there and I saw Godiva stores on quite a few corners around Brussels. Diana and I sampled chocolates, truffles, and hot chocolate from a few independent chocolate shops. My review in just two words: outrageously delicious. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos but you probably already know what chocolate looks like.
The last Belgium-is-known-for food we ate were mussels, which we had at a restaurant in the center of Brussels. Yep, Brussels mussels, with a side of fries, of course:
In case you're wondering, the mussels on the left had a Tuscan sauce on them and the ones on the right had an amazing garlic-butter sauce. Mussels aren't on my favorite-foods list but (Diana and) I enjoyed them and the rest of our Belgian delicacies: