I spent most of the last week in Belgium with my cousin; we wandered the medieval streets of Bruges, hauled ourselves up the monument at Waterloo, and sought out the major buildings of the European Union in Brussels. It was a great time, and we did a lot. But just as importantly, we made sure to sample from each of the four major food groups in (tourist) Belgium: beer, waffles, frites, and chocolate.
Most beers brewed in Belgium have their own glass, and woe to you if you use the wrong glass for your beer. Apparently, it actually causes the beer to taste different. I didn’t test this theory, but anyway you can see that most of the time I had a glass, but occasionally I had to be a philistine and drink from the bottle.
I skipped the shitty-beer-drinking part of college and went straight to being a beer snob, since my boyfriend at the time introduced me to expensive imports and I couldn’t go back. So I was in heaven in Belgium, surrounded by trippels, dobbels, blonds, weisses, and other delicious varieties of beer.
Belgians eat waffles plain, no chocolate or whipped cream or anything. Well, sort of plain–they coat the waffle lightly in a sugar syrup that dries quickly and gives it a sweeter taste. The waffles I grew up eating for breakfast were much lighter than the ones here, which are denser, more like cake. Delicious waffle cake.
I already knew I liked fries with mayo, from my visit to Amsterdam a few years ago. So I was able to confidently order frites with mayo here, although in some places there are a lot more sauces you can try. The secret to the tastiness of Belgian frites is that they’re fried twice, giving them the perfect crispy exterior.
The chocolate in Belgium truly is divine. Every map and tour guide reminded us that Belgians normally just buy cheap chocolate in the supermarket, like everybody else; the fancy stuff is for tourists, gifts for aunties, and special occasions. I suppose that’s because if you were eating the real thing all the time, you’d stop eating anything else. The bonbons are called pralines, which initially confused me, as I looked for nuts, and indeed, pralines often have a hazelnut paste or ganache inside, but they don’t always. Confused? Don’t worry, just point blindly at the display case, and you’ll come away happy. (Um, unless you have a nut allergy, then good luck!)