Traditional Belgian food is typically on the heavier side, with influences and similar ingredients as neighboring countries like Germany, the Netherlands or France, while also having very distinct qualities of its own. These countries often use lots of butter, cream, and herbs. Belgians also love to emphasize seasonal ingredients, so it will depend on which season you’re in the country for the best, freshest, local delicacies. We recommend heading to the capital Brussels, Antwerp, or Bruges for some of the most delicious Belgian food.
In the capital city of Brussels, head out on a beer tasting scavenger hunt, see the famous Manneken Pis statue- better known as the statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain, or just wander around this picturesque city. If you find yourself visiting Brussels during the late summer months, head to the square by Brussels Grand Palace to see the amazing flower carpet. An enormous art installation featuring real flowers in decorative patterns. A must see! We also recommend Antwerp for shopping and architectural gems; and check out Bruges- the Venice of Belgium and our favorite city in Belgium!
The Belgians sure love their fries and they make sure you can eat them any time of day. The traditional Belgian street food is served with a sauce of your choosing- but mayo is the preferred option. The sauce options are endless. You can order fries with ketchup, curry ketchup or mayo, aioli, sauce andalouse – mayonnaise with tomato paste and peppers, or even sauce Americaine – mayonnaise with tomato, chervil, onions, capers, crustacean stock, and celery. The fries come in a cone with a miniature fork, making it a perfect on the go snack. Frites are also a staple at dinner time, with dishes such as moules frites-mussels cooked or steamed with onions and celery served with fries- or steak frites- steak and french fries.
Waffles are most likely some of the most well known of all the traditional Belgian foods you must try. Belgian waffles here are served a bit differently than in the States, not necessarily featured in sit-down restaurants, they are often served as street food. Especially in the city of Belgium, you will see them in little carts on the sidewalks or even takeout shops. There are sweet and savory and are often eaten as snacks, instead of a full meal. The waffles on the street are piled high with your choice of toppings.
Belgium is of course known for its large variety of beer. In 2011 alone, there were about 1,132 different styles of beer being produced in the country. The brewery industry in Belgium can be traced back to the Middle Ages. During these times, the water was quite unsanitary. The large population drank beer as their primary source of hydration, seeing as the alcohol-which was a much lower concentration level then beer served today- sanitized the water, making it safer to drink. The traditional Belgian beer is actually sour. This may sound rather off putting, however it is definitely worth a try. The Belgians also serve each type of beer in a different unique glass as they believe that it changes the taste of the beer, making it even better.
For a relatively small country, Belgium has around 2,000 small chocolatiers. The composition of Belgian chocolate has been regulated by law since 1884. In order to prevent adulteration of the chocolate with low-quality fats from other sources, a minimum level of 35% pure cocoa was imposed, and vegetable fats are not used at all. Many chocolatiers produce the chocolates by hand, making the chocolates that much more delicious. Famous chocolate companies, like Neuhaus and Guylian, strictly follow traditional (and sometimes secret) recipes for their products. The high quality of chocolate here makes it a traditional Belgian food you must try. We would recommend exploring the many chocolatiers in the city of Brussels; as they are unique and many are one of a kind.
Waterzooi is a rich stew and soup consisting of chicken or fish, vegetables, cream and eggs. Today it is much more common to find this dish served with chicken. The most accepted reason for this, is that the rivers of Ghent became too polluted and all the fish disappeared. The soup usually comes with a tasty baguette on the side. Enjoy this after doing some outdoor winter activities and it will warm you right up!
These cookies are some of the most amazing in the world. They are a traditional snack from the town of Dinant, although you can find them pretty much anywhere in Belgium. Many bakeries sell them embossed with unique and interesting designs. They are similar to the Danish Butter cookies that come in the blue tin that most grandmothers used as a sewing tin- isn’t that a trip down memory lane. Originally, these cookies were much more savory, but over time the ingredients were adjusted and what we are left with is the delicious, sweet, hard cookies that many eat now. Couques de Dinant aren’t meant to be bitten into, but broken into pieces with your hands as you allow them to melt slowly in your mouth. These are amazing little gems of traditional Belgian food. The legend goes that the residents of Dinant threw them at besiegers of the town, though the stories to which war vary greatly. Either way, these tasty treats are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Don’t miss out on trying traditional Belgian food! To plan your own unique foodie vacation contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org