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Why Belgium is Awesome

Europe / September 11, 2009

The food here is ridiculous. When I first moved here the locals told me that they have the best of both worlds because their cuisine is as fine as the French but in German portions.

I’m going to torture myself right now by listing the delightful foods that I discovered only in ‘ce petit pays’.

The best gingerbread cookie ever.

Speculoos, a specialty of Belgium in which flat gingerbread cakes are cut into different shapes, are the inspiration for this recipe. Similar cookies called speculaas are made in Holland, Germany and Austria. These are decorated with melted white chocolate and some pretty red sugar.

When it comes to chocolates, there are the everyday candy bars we consume every day, the more exotic Godiva or Ghirardelli-style chocolates found in coffee houses and specialty stores, and then there is Belgian chocolate. Belgian chocolate is considered to be the gourmet standard by which all other chocolate confections are measured. Even the Swiss, known for their own high quality chocolate, imported the basic recipe from French and Belgian chocolatiers.

What makes Belgian chocolate unique is the quality of ingredients and an almost fanatical adherence to Old World manufacturing techniques. Even in today’s world of automation and mass production, most Belgian chocolate is still made by hand in small shops using original equipment. In fact, these small chocolate outlets are a popular draw for tourists visiting Belgium today. Much like wineries, tours of Belgian chocolate shops include tastings and exclusive souvenirs.

My favorite brands are Neuhaus, Cote D’Or, Pierre Marcolini, Godiva.

Are you familiar with steak tartare? Like steak tartare, this is a raw ground beef dish that is made with raw egg, shallots, mustard, worchester sauce, capers and parsley. The Belgians don’t do much sushi but they do alot of raw meat dishes like carpaccio and filet americain. I could eat this stuff all day. It’s often served either straight up on a dish or in a french baguette.

This picture is very typical with the fries. They are also a Belgian specialty, dipped in mayo.

I really need to stop this blog entry, this is torture. Just got back from the gym where I did an hour of interval cardio and abs, ate 2 slices of lean ham and broccoli after and that’s it. I have a iPhone bikini girl application casting tomorrow so I’m needing to look lean and mean and this foodie stuff is not helping. Keep telling myself, “end of November I can have a day of binge!!”

Natalie Minh

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