When visiting Brussels try to be kind with the natives. We are a bit depressive as we don't know if our country will still exist at the end of next year.
So avoid upsetting genuine Brusseleirs like me by writing here repeatedly about "fries" or worse 'French fries".
Even more worse, VT wrote on the Brugge/Bruges local customs page that there are "Flemish Frites" which is laughable because Belgians do not distinguish Flemish fritten from Walloon or Brussels frites!!!
Even our Flemish or Walloon nationalists do not make such a distinction!
The "frites" (in French) "fritten or frieten" (in Flemish) originate from Belgium. All most serious historical, gastronomical studies agree on this.
"French fries" are fake products; they are an infringement of Belgian proprietary rights!
By the way, have you ever heard a Frenchman use the term "French fries" "Frites Françaises"? The French, although well known for their chauvinism, recognize that Belgium is the champion of the frites. In France the nickname for Belgians is … "frites"!
This being said and understood I will explain here how we Belgians prepare our FRITES-FRIETEN.
The potatoes should be of the "Bintje" type. This species exists since a century and was developed in the north of the Netherlands (Friesland).
There are two possibilities for frying: in ox fat ("blanc de boeuf" "ossewit") or in groundnut ("arachide") oil. The (white) ox fat is generally used in the shops and restaurants. The oil is often used at home (can be filtered when cold). It is essential to renew frequently the fat or oil in order to avoid the occurrence of carbonised particles and the chemical degradation of the fat or oil by the heating at high temperature. In Belgium there is a regulation concerning the choice and use of the frying fat. A two phase process at different temperatures is essential. A first cooking at a fat or oil temperature of 150°-160 C for some minutes. This first stage takes the water out of the potato, then immersion at a higher temperature of 180-190°C to get the frites crusty.
Is that enough to have good frites? Absolutely not! Belgian expertise is needed otherwise you have french fries, english chips, american, spanish, italian, greek more or less fried potatoes but no "frites".
Thank you Dabs for writing: "Americans should get out of their comfort zone and go local-try them with mayonnaise, not ketchup".
Ketchup on frites is a crime according to Belgian law!
Mussels with frites are a national dish in Belgium. We call them "moules casserole" as they are cooked in a "casserole" which is a large pan of minimum 3 liters content. This volume is needed to prepare the usual amount of 1 kg mussels per person. This quantity of mussels contains about 250 gr. of flesh.
The crux of the matter is the mussels. They are breed in the waters of Zeeland (South west of the Netherlands) and the flesh is pale. This type is called "Zeeuwse mosselen".
The large scale production and commercialization is centered at Yerseke. Dutch mussel producers supply about 30 million kilos to Belgium during the months from August to end of March. Biggest are the Jumbo quality (price in the shops ± 5 €/kg).
The Belgian preparation of the "Moules Casserole" is with celery, onions, (carrots), parsley, pepper and the (sea) water contained in the mussels.
My wife was not willing to give more details about the preparation. After the "French fries" story she insists on keeping secret our Belgian culinary receipts!
Mussels are, of course, eaten with Belgian frites.
To drink we prefer a somewhat acid white wine (never a Chardonnay type wine) such as the Mosel wines. This wine can also be added on cooking. On my photo I choose a Pinot Blanc less acid than Riesling.
Is it dangerous to eat mussels?
I have never been sick with mussels but I have been with oysters.
The mussels of Zeeland undergo a serious bacteriological control and they are cooked.
Some people eat them raw but dip them in vinaigrette. My grandparents always used to eat the Moules casserole with vinegar, mustard or pickles because it was said that the vinegar would neutralize eventual toxins in the mussels.
When I was a kid, mussels were a popular dish, also the poor could afford them. Nowadays mussels are at the same price level as steak!
Other mussels than Dutch have been tried but … they taste different at least in our imagination.
Another national dish. As we have discussed the question of the frites, let's focus on the meat.
Beef in Belgium is of the Bleu-Blanc Belge (Belgian Blue) species. There is a large, often industrialized production of these strong animals with a white or blue piebald coat. We have 1.1 million of them!
Specific are the strong muscular buttocks similar to those of heavy horses, they are called "cul de poulain". The bleu-blanc belge produces a high proportion of tender meat; from there its success with the Belgian consumer who wants prime choice cuts of extremely tender, low-fat meat.
Personally I prefer beef which is less tender but has more taste than the bleu-blanc Belge.
There is nothing more Belgian then a 'FRITKOT'
It's cheap , greasy , unhealthy and we love it.
You will find them in France and in the
Netherlands. But these are poor decoctions
of what we got here in Belgium.
For starters a real belgian 'fritkot' will have
a large scale of meat-snacks.
Some homemade and a lot from big
companies. Belgians always need a sauce
with the fries and often another extra one for
The fries need to be fresh and baked twice.
We don't like those little stick...we want them
thick. With or without salt. A good 'fritkot' will
When we were shopping on sunday afternoon
we needed some drinks and some rest.
At the square of 'onze-lieve-vrouw-ter-kapelle'
there were lots of people eating fries and
a lot of them were waiting to get some.
The 'fritkots' name is
'friture pitta de la chapelle'.
The fries tasted great , the spot was perfect
to sit...the owners are new belgians.
(I think north african origine).
But I wasn't too impressed by their sauces.
Anyway , you should at least try it ones....
Some call them French fries, some lunatics even called them freedom fries (I hope they choke on it for raping our fries good name like this) but just call them fries :)
or Belgian fries... voila!
no more discussions!
and the real ones comes in a tip bag (see picture).
At leas as important as the choice of the right name is the choice where to eat them!
At Place Jourdan/Jourdan Plein you will find the best frittes if you believe the stories that goes around :)
When Norali and Peter_P organised the 30th November meeting in Brussels, lots of us tried them and agreed... they were suberb!
Maison Antoine ! Don't look any further!
This is something really 'brussels'.
You will find them in other cities as well ,
but they are more present in Brussels.
'karakollen' are snails , cooked in water
and vegetables and well spiced.
You eat them with a plastic fork in a little plastic
bowl...some people also drink the 'soup'.
You can find them on squares when the weather is fine...
This one is in front of the 'Saint Catharina church'...
They are really present at Brussels fair near
the south station , 'gare du midi'.
You like them or your don't.
I eat them once in a while .
Even our former king Boudewijn loved them.
Welcome to the Wonderful World of Waffles!
Forget about the mal-represented ‘Belgian Waffles’ served for breakfast at your local diner. Waffles have been an important part of the Belgian diet for centuries and are an epicurean encounter which can only be experienced in their natural habitat. Aside from the delicious recipe, the authentic Belgian waffle is unique because of the special waffle irons used to bake them. These waffle irons are only available in Belgium and give Belgian waffles their signature crunchy-golden outside and fluffy inside.
In Belgium there are two types of waffles (or gauffres as we like to call them): the Brussels and the Liege waffle. The Brussels is rectangular in shape with a golden-brown exterior, deep divots and is usually eaten with a knife and fork. Brussels waffles are served with a variety of toppings such as powdered sugar, whipped cream, ice cream, strawberries and chocolate. The Liege waffle is golden-yellow, more dense in texture and has a burned sugar coating on the outside giving it a lightly sweet flavor. This hand-held waffle is sold by street vendors all over Belgium.
Brussels is not only the capital of Europe but also the capital of gastronomy. The art of good eating is part of an authentic way of life.If a lunch time is less than 3 hours its called "fast food"...A Belgian likes to stroll in certain areas well-known for their gastronomic tables, such as Place Sainte-Catherine known as the fish market. The place where you can feast on the mussels and oysters from Zelande, lobsters from different countries; local fish such as sole and turbot, which the best chiefs turn into sublimely inventive dishes.
The Sablon is another part of the city renowned for its delicious fare. It boasts many antique shops as well as its numerous café’s, taverns, wine bars and chic restaurants. The food served is traditional, which is to say truly international.
A stone's throw from the Grand Place (Market Place) is the very popular Ilot Sacré, an area packed with restaurants serving Belgian and international cuisine.
Beer is also a popular beverage with Brusselers. Some cafés offer a very wide choice of bottled and draft Belgian beers.
Freedom fries, chips, or frites – whichever name you prefer to use – they’re Belgian! And we take this responsibility very seriously. Made with Belgian Bintje potatoes, cooked twice and served in a paper cone with a side of mayonnaise, these Belgian treats embody potato perfection.
A favorite place to sample fries are at frietkots or fritures, which are outdoor vendors who sell – you guessed it – Belgian fries. There are more than 4000 frietkots throughout Belgium and many carry a selection of over 50 dipping sauces to choose from. One of the most visited frietkots in Brussels is a local favorite, Antoine's, a landmark stand on the Place Jourdan. Whether enjoyed at a three star Michelin restaurant or right off the street, this Belgian specialty is not to be missed.
Like in France, in Belgium croissants are very popular for breakfast. I ate them every day for breakfast...:) Just tasty!
A croissant is a butter-laden flaky French pastry, named for its distinctive crescent shape. Croissants are made of a leavened variant of puff pastry by layering yeast dough with butter and rolling and folding a few times in succession, then rolling.
Making croissants by hand requires skill and patience, but the development of factory-made, frozen, pre-formed but unbaked dough has made them into a fast food which can be freshly baked by unskilled labor. Indeed, the croissanterie was explicitly a French response to American fast food. This innovation, along with the croissant's versatility and distinctive shape, has made it the best-known type of French pastry in much of the world. In many parts of the United States, for example, the croissant (introduced at the fast food chains Arby's in the United States and Tim Hortons in Canada in 1983) has come to rival the long-time favorite doughnuts.
One of the culinary specialities in Belgium is the famous "frites" ("french fries" ... but I prefer to say "belgian fries". After all, they were invented by Belgians ;-) And the best place to buy them is the "Maison Antoine". Try the home-made "tartare" sauce (tell them if you want the sauce separated or on the fries). Or may be you will prefer a "mitraillette" (fries and hamburger in bread) or a hot dog or a sausage ... If you want to sit down, cross the street and go to the typical Belgian pub "Chez Bernard". Frites are allowed if you have a drink.
I found this funny article about belgian fries and Maison Antoine on http://www.businessweek.com/1999/99_22/c3631157.htm. If you want to know how fries were invented, what's the origin of the name "frite", what's the secret of the tasty Belgian fries etc., please have a look ;-)
Maison Antoine, Place Jourdan 1, 1040 Brussels (not far from Schuman and Mérode, not far from European Parliamant)
This is very traditional, The arrival of Saint Nicholas is celebrated in Belgium on the 5'th of December, in this period you can find lots of chocolates in town in Saint Nicholas form, just like in the photo...kids love it but I'm sure you will love it too!!
The real Brussels waffle (called Belgian waffle abroad) is light and crispy, served warm and often dusted with confectioner's sugar or whipped cream. One can have it as desert or as snack, but lots of street vendors sell it too.
Warm Liège waffles are mostlyonly sold by street vendors. They are sweeter and denser and real calorie bombs, but oh so tasty.
Don't let anyone stop you from buying waffles from street vendors. The food is ok.
I think the second most popular pastime in Belgium, after beer drinking, is chocolate. It seems there is a chocolatier on every corner and not only are they delightful to the eye, but also to the palate. You can see a big hen and her eggs, all done in chocolate.
Our friend Guy, surprised us with a gift from Neuhaus and they are truly "sinful" ^O^
Here is their homesite if you would like to order online.
Belgians take their frites very seriously, don't dare call them French fries! Why have they become known as French fries and not Belgian fries? The theory is that American soldiers during WWI tasted them and since French was the language spoken by the Belgians they were dubbed French fries.
So what sets the Belgian frite apart and makes them , in some people's estimation, the best in the world? You start with the type of potato, usually Bintje. And the real key? Double frying!
I don't think we tried them in Brussels but I have in Gent and Brugge and they are delightful. Hopefully I will be updating this soon with a recommendation in Brussels.
Americans should get out of their comfort zone and go local-try them with mayonnaise, not ketchup