First and foremost, there’s the dish that the whole nation is proud of: fries (or fried potato strips). Add a generous dollop of mayonnaise and you have the signature Belgian dish. In terms of what goes well with it, there’s no need to reach for any fried meat snacks, because Belgians have so many other dishes that combine perfectly with fries.
For a start: mussels! Fresh from the North Sea, served in large black pots and prepared in a variety of ways (with wine or beer, for example). You prefer a meat dish? One typical dish is called vidé or vol-au-vent – a puff pastry biscuit filled with a white sauce that contains chicken and sometimes small meatballs.
Or there’s beef stew, often prepared with a bottle of beer of your choice. The meat is slowly stewed and then the sauce is thickened with, for example, bread, mustard and onion. The Belgians are so crazy about it that they often replace the mayonnaise on the fries with this beef stew sauce.
Chicory and asparagus
Perhaps you favour vegetables? Then chicory (witlof) may be your thing. Maybe, because chicory is a vegetable that you either really like or don't like at all due to its rather bitter taste. A traditional dish is chicory in ham rolls with cheese sauce, often au gratin from the oven for a delectable crust!
May and June are the peak months for asparagus, which are also known as white gold. Lightly blanched and paired with egg and parsley and a sauce of clarified butter.
Want to take command of the cooking stove yourself? In his popular TV programme Dagelijkse Kost, one of Belgium’s most renowned TV chefs, Jeroen Meus, started a search for the 10 greatest Flemish classics in the kitchen. This was the result:
|1. Beef stew with fries||6. Flemish-style asparagus|
|2. Chicory with ham in the oven||7. Rabbit with prunes|
|3. Steak with fries, béarnaise sauce and a salad||8. Veal tongue in madeira sauce|
|4. Vol-au-vent||9. Sole à la meunière|
|5. Meatballs in sour cherry or tomato sauce||10. Steak tartare|
Liège vs. Brussels waffles
Fancy a snack? When you stroll through the (shopping) streets of our major cities, you will see a lot of the locals and tourists feasting on freshly baked waffles. Note: you have 2 typical types of waffles in Belgium, each named after a specific Belgian city.
Brussels waffles are large, rectangular and thicker than a regular waffle. They are delightfully airy and crispy. Traditionally, Brussels waffles are eaten warm, sprinkled with a little powdered sugar. Of course, there are also many variants: topped with Nutella, ice cream and fresh fruit, whipped cream, and so on.
Liège waffles, on the other hand, are smaller and thinner. They are softer and more compact and can also be eaten cold. Characteristic are the small lumps of sugar that are mixed through the dough. At Christmas markets, they are often eaten with hot chocolate, a glass of jenever, or mulled wine!
You won’t easily suffer from a dry throat in Belgium. More than 1000 types of beer are brewed, ranging from large commercial brands, such as Stella Artois and Jupiler, to small-scale local beers. It goes without saying that, in the beer country par excellence, the choice and varieties are enormous!
In every café or restaurant in Belgium, you can choose from a wide variety of beers, bottled as well as on tap. In addition to the regular lager, there is a lot of room for special beers in all shapes and sizes: wheat beers, Trappist beers, blonde and brown ales, fruity and strong beers, and more.
Nice to know: just about every beer is served in its accompanying glass. Would you like to munch on something with your beer? Belgium has a very rich assortment of cheeses. You will find both hard and soft cheeses, fresh and aged, made from goat's milk or cow's milk. The numerous abbey cheeses are often made to go especially well with the abbey’s beer.
Jenever doesn’t have the same cult status as beer in Belgium, but it’s still very popular – especially in the winter months. Belgians gather during the annual Christmas markets and taste the many flavours: ranging from vanilla and chocolate to apple and cactus.
Belgium has dozens of distilleries, which produce between 7 and 10 million litres of jenever annually. In the jenever city of Hasselt, where IMPACT's head office is also located, you will find the National Jenever Museum, where you can discover everything about the history and production of jenever.