Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Adventures In Food: Belgium

Bruges is a fairytale. It is so pretty that it hurts. To add insult to injury, Belgium is the chocolate capital of the world? Please. I can't take it. Look at those beautiful chocolate shop autumnal window displays!

Belgium is known for a few key products that I'm sure you already know about. But I'll tell you anyway. Actually this post is missing one key thing (vegetarians read on), and I've included an extra that you may not be so familiar with.

Side note: we only visited Bruges in Belgium. At this point in our trip we were hopping around to major cities that we absolutely could not miss before heading back to our side of the world.


Ok, so of course Belgium is famous for beer. We visited a brewery and went for a beer each evening. We tried a 13% beer one evening and I was tipsy halfway through and drunk by the end. Be warned.


I knew that Belgian chocolate must be made in Belgium, but I didn't know that there are regulations banning vegetable oil and palm oil from it's production! In my last post I mentioned praline as a sugar and nut combination, but in Belgium pralines are chocolates with a softer centre and chocolate shell, like these commonplace and delicious sea shells.

{gaufre de liege}

It was cold when we were in Bruges and an afternoon liege waffle was the perfect thing to warm us up! Sometimes I ate them plain and sometimes (more often) I couldn't resist the toppings on offer! The waffle on the right is covered in speculoos paste and crumbled speculoos. If you are wondering what on earth speculoos is, then read on for my bonus Belgian food! 


{speculoos cookies}

Speculoos is a thin spiced biscuit that is always stamped with some sort of image. (You can see the biscuits on the trays in front- I couldn't resist taking photos of shop windows in Bruges!). It is usually baked for early December and we were lucky enough to be there around the right time, although I think they are becoming popular year round. They are really delicious and if I saw speculoos flavoured anything I just had to try it! Which brings me to the next discovery...

{speculoos paste}

Ahhh my new favourite thing! Speculoos paste is the consistency of peanut butter but made from crushed speculoos cookies! So imagine a sweet, creamy, spicy paste that you can spread on toast or eat with a spoon :) I saw this homemade version in a specialty speculoos shop (where I bought a small mould to make the stamped biscuits) but happily, larger companies also make the paste and it's in every supermarket in Belgium! Huzzah! It's so widespread that at our hostel breakfast the miniature packaged spread options were butter, jam, and speculoos.

On to a sadder note. Along with chocolate, beer and waffles, Belgium is also famous for it's fries (frites). I had several people tell me that the reason that they are so good is because they are traditionally fried in lard. I asked around at every place Kyle got fries and alas, they were all fried in animal fat. I heard about one place in Bruges that did veggo fries and we went there, but it was closed. So, I did not try fries in Belgium, but not for lack of trying. There is a happier story in The Netherlands though... you'll have to wait for my next post to hear it.

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