If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium..

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The first thing I thought about when I saw this book was that my friend Janice and her husband Larry were soon leaving on a trip to Belgium.  I emailed Janice and asked if she would tell me about her trip upon return so I could include her comments with this cookbook.  I mentioned to Janice that I had never been to Belgium, but my friend Roxanne had been there many times, and always brought back “Neuhaus” chocolates from Brussels, which are amazing.  Janice said she and Larry had a marvelous time, having “mussels in Brussels,” along with other great fish dishes, duck, and…. Neuhaus chocolates!  Here is Larry right in front of the store.  Ahhhh…. I can just taste them!

So what constitutes Belgian food?  I don’t know much about it, but the author of this lovely cookbook says that Belgians are fond of saying that their food is “cooked with French finesse and served in portions of German generosity.”  Over the centuries, Belgium has been invaded by almost every other European people, including the Romans, Vikings, Spanish, French, German, and Dutch, effectively becoming a meeting point for the Germanic cultures of northern Europe and the Latin cultures of the south.   Favorite cooking techniques, ingredients, and styles of the invaders were picked up by the natives, who by the Middle Ages, had developed a cuisine they could call their own.  Food is an extremely important part of Belgian life.  The Belgian approach to food is perhaps summed up in the following motto: “We eat three times a day, so we’d better try to make a feast of it every time.”  When shopping for dinner, a Belgian will happily go out of her way if it means a better loaf of bread or more tender vegetables.  Belgians devote a great deal of time and energy discussing food, shopping for it, preparing it, and consuming it. 
The Belgian passion for food and cooking comes alive in the cookbook.  The chapters include appetizers and small plates; soups;  fish and shellfish; poultry and game;  meat;  cooking with beer;  vegetable and fruit dishes;  potatoes;  waffles, pancakes, and breads; and desserts.  Janice said they enjoyed the mussels, beer, and frites with mayonnaise, which you can see she and Larry enjoyed at a charming outdoor cafe.
Since Janice and Larry own an art gallery, they attended the European Fine Arts Fair in Maastricht, which they said was truly amazing.  Rembrandt, Renoir, Picasso, Degas, and more, all over the beautiful stalls in a huge convention center.  Janice said Bruges was charming with its many canals, a central square, and lovely architecture.   Janice said they would love to return to Belgium someday.  When you go back, Janice, can you save me a couple Neuhaus chocolates?


2 Responses to If it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium..

  1. April 19, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    My family went to Brussels in the summer of 1972. I remember watching them make and then having chocolate dipped strawberries in some square that a famous cathedral or building was in–don’t remember it was so long ago. It was Godiva chocolate, and that candy story must have been the original Godiva as I think Godiva originated in Brussels. Godiva was not available in the US at that time, but they started selling it in the US in time for Christmas that year so I got some for our family as a surprise that year as they didn’t know they had started selling it in the US yet. Your blog brought back some good memories.

  2. April 19, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    How fun to experience the very first Godiva’s, and what a great story of surprising your family with them for Christmas! I have never talked to anyone who has been to Brussels that didn’t love it, either now or in the past.

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