Let’s Go Exploring! Belgium: Food Porn Paradise

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This is part of a Travel Series called “Let’s go Exploring!” Click here for Part 1, Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

1024px-Manneken_Pis_Brussel
Photo credit: Pbrundel @ wikipedia

“So your mascot is a naked little boy peeing into a fountain!?”

“Yes. We call him ‘Manneken Pis’,” said Jake, our tour guide. “We like to dress him up in different outfits for special holidays. And during Octoberfest, we even fill up the fountain with beer! That way he can piss free booze all day!”

He smirked, as I blinked in disbelief. “He even has his own anthem! It goes like this:”

Manneken Pis, Manneken Pis, you sprinkle us with joy.

Pss. Pss. Pss. Pss Pss Pss.

You sprinkle us with joy!

I couldn’t believe it. Belgium was turning out to be exactly as awesome as I thought it would be.

“So, how did he end up as your mascot?”

Jake went on to tell me about a story from 1142, when the troops of a 2-year-old lord was battling (and losing) to an invading army. The army put the little boy in a basket and hung the basket in a tree, out of harms way. But instead of hiding, the boy climbed out, stood up, and peed directly onto the heads of the advancing army. And this little boy’s bravery and defiant attitude eventually inspired the troops to win the battle.

“So that’s why the Manneken Pis is the symbol of Belgium. It’s irreverent and defiant, just like us.”

Right then and there I knew the Belgians and us were going to get along great.

We had decided to go to Brussels on a whim, after finding a Megabus ticket for $4 per person from Amsterdam. And the minute I stepped into the city and bought my first batch of beef fat Belgian fries with curry ketchup, I knew we’d made the right decision.

Belgian was an hidden foodie paradise. And I was glad that not too many people know this, so there were never any long line-ups.

I think I must’ve gained at least 5-10 pounds even though we were only staying there for a week, but it was totally worth it.

Here is some of the incredible food we ate (warning: obscene food porn pictures coming up. May inspire insatiable urges to stuff your pie hole. You have been warned)

1) Belgian fries cooked in beef fat with a ridiculously large selection of sauces (we went with Curry Ketchup and Andalouse) :

french-fries-250641_1920

2) Orgasmically good Belgian chocolates

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We bought more than 3 chocolates but most of them never made it into the photograph. *sheepish grin*

3) Warm and buttery Belgian Waffles

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4) Savoury “Moules Fries” (Mussels and Fries)

Moules_Frites
photo credit: dennis and aimee jonez @ Flickr, license: CC By-SA 2.0

5) Smooth and creamy hot chocolate on a spoon. Dunk it into a piping hot cup of foamy milk and watch it melt. Mmmmm.

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And it wasn’t just the food either. The drinks were unforgettable as well! In fact, for such a small country, Belgian managed to pack in an astounding 180 breweries! Since I’m more of a fruity cocktail person, I didn’t really believe our tour guide when he said “there is no such thing as NOT liking beer. If you say you don’t like beer, you just haven’t found the right kind. And with so many varieties, I guarantee Belgian will have your beer.”

He was right. Turns out the only reason I never liked beer is because I’ve never had Lambic cherry beer. Unlike regular beer, lambic beer is fermented spontaneously.  By being exposed to wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Zenne valley, this type of beer gets a distinctive flavour: cidery with a slightly sour aftertaste. And then they infuse it with cherry…somehow. And I know it sounds weird, putting bitter, sour, and sweet together, but it totally worked.

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Oh Lambic cherry beer, where have you been all my life?

The minute the velvety red liquid touched my lips, I was hooked. We spent a good amount of the evening people-watching and downing cases of Lambic. It was AWESOME.

And now whenever someone tells me they don’t like beer, I tell them to go to Belgium STAT.

The next day, we took a day trip to Ghent, a pretty little town with historic little houses and canals. What I remember the most about Ghent was the castle on that grounds which was only invaded 1 time in history…by drunken college students. Why did they invade the castle you ask? Because the city decided to raise beer prices by $1-2 Euros.

Dumb-asses. These are students we’re talking about! Take away their beer and prepare to have your castle decimated. They literarily have nothing to lose.

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Not pictured: drunken students hanging off the castle walls

Cost Breakdown (in CAD dollars, per couple):

Accommodations:

  • $48/night
  • Found a crazy good deal on AirBnB within 45 mins walking distance from downtown.

Food:

  • $35/day
    • Belgium had lots of tasty food without the outrageous prices (Fries – 4 Euros, Chocolates – 5 Euros, Mussels – 10 Euros, Lambic cherry beer – $2.99 Euros for 2)
    • Try the beef fat fries from Maison Antoine. Sooooo good.

Attractions:

  • $10/day
    • Brussels had a ton of free attractions like parks, free-guided tours (just need to pay tip), and museums. The food was also an attraction in of itself.

Transportation:

  • $7/day
  • Since we were walking distance from everything, the only transportation cost was the $4 bus ride from Amsterdam and the $20/person train ride to Ghent.

Total cost: $100/day/couple (holy shit! How is this daily budget even possible in Western Europe? Another reason to love Belgium.)

Rating: 5/5 Lambic Cherry Beers

The longer we stayed in Belgium, the more I realized how beautiful the city was. Like a more down-to-earth Paris that didn’t want to rape your wallet.

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But what I liked the most about Brussels was their sense of humour. Remember the story of Manneken Pis? And how Belgium is famous for its fries?”

Well, here’s what happens when you put them together:

manneken fries

Oh Belgians. You crack me up.

Click here for the next post in the series.

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6 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Belgium: Food Porn Paradise”

  1. So glad to see you toured Belgium the right way and saw all its great aspects and in summer as well! Thanks for the great post, takes me back to my grad school years in Brussels!

  2. The beer is literally cheaper than water over there. Next time also try Hoegarrden Rosee(not to be found in the states anywhere). Also Cote d’ Ivore chocolate bars are orgasmic

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