BPR Travel Diary | Eating My Way Through Belgium
This spring I took a trip to Belgium to visit relatives and of course do some sightseeing along the way! My family and I travelled from Brussels to Bruges, stopping in other main cities (such as Ghent and Ypres), as well as exploring the Belgian countryside. The final leg of our trip was spent visiting extended family in the small town my grandparents grew up in.
As we don’t speak Dutch, communicating was sometimes a challenge. The solution turned out to be simple: food, the universal communicator! My great aunt prepared a delicious meal for our family to show how excited she was to finally meet us. When she saw the huge grins on our faces, she knew our hearts (and stomachs) were full of a love that overcomes any language barrier.
If you’re planning a trip to Belgium, I’ve put together a list of the best foods to eat, so you too can break language barriers.
Belgium has over a dozen regional varieties of waffles, with the “Brussels Waffle” serving as the inspiration for the North American “Belgian Waffle.” If you’re in the mood to indulge a little, many waffle stands offer a wide selection of toppings. I topped mine with warm cherries and whipped cream and dug in while watching other tourists take selfies in front of Bruges’ City Hall.
Travel Tip: If you want to eat like a local, the most authentic way to enjoy a Belgian waffle is with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.
This traditional Belgian beef and onion stew is made with beer and seasoned with thyme, bay leaves and mustard. Served with creamy mashed potatoes, this dish was at the top of my food bucket list for the trip! It was so delicious I ate it twice: on our first night in Brussels and again in Bruges!
Travel Tip: In the Dutch-speaking parts of Belgium this dish is called Stooflvlees, but in the French speaking parts it’s called Carbonade. Make sure you know which name to use when ordering it in a restaurant.
One of my favourite dishes, my grandma makes it for me every year on my birthday is Vol-Au-Vent. This decadent meal comprises of a baked puff pastry shell filled with chicken and tiny meatballs cooked in a white mushroom sauce. I ate this dish at a restaurant in Leuven called “Notre Dame” and it tasted just like how my grandmother makes it!
Travel Tip: Not sure what side to order? Potato croquettes pair really well!
Despite the popular misconception, fries were not invented by the French, but rather the Belgians! The only way to eat fries in Belgium is from a big paper cone, smothered with mayonnaise. I enjoyed delicious golden fries almost everyday on my trip and have no regrets.
Travel Tip: At most restaurants orders of fries are bottomless, so make sure to ask for more, its free of charge!
My family members are firm believers that the best Chocolate in Belgium is not the stuff sold in tourist shops, but chocolate you can purchase at the grocery store! Our brand of choice is Côte d’Or. All their products are delicious, but my personal favourite is the “elephant” chocolates. Made with milk chocolate, these elephant shaped chocolates are filled with a creamy hazelnut praline.
Travel Tip: If you’re looking for a more refined chocolate, Neuhaus is one of the oldest chocolatiers in Belgium and the inventor of the praline filling!
When wandering through a city all day, stopping for a rest/ drink is a must. We always elected to sit at an outdoor patio so we could people watch! With over 800 varieties of beer brewed in Belgium, the choices are endless.
Travel Tip: Try sampling a beer brewed in the region you’re touring to narrow down your choices!
By: Olivia Neukamm, Account Coordinator