Belgian Food: A Delightful and Tasty Journey

Hey there, fellow foodies! Today, we’re going to take a delicious journey into the world of Belgian cuisine. Belgium may be a small country, but it has a lot to offer when it comes to food. From savory dishes to mouthwatering desserts, the Belgians have got it all figured out. So, let’s dive into some of the most traditional and popular Belgian foods, shall we?

Belgian Fries (aka French Fries)

Home-made Belgian Fries
Home made Belgian Fries

You might be thinking, “Wait, aren’t all fries – French fries?” Well, it’s time to set the record straight: Belgian fries are the original!

These crispy golden treats are usually served in a cone-shaped paper wrapper, and they are thicker and fluffier than their American counterparts. They are often enjoyed with mayonnaise or a variety of sauces and can be found at fry shops (friteries in French, frietkot/frituur in Flemish) all over the country.

Flemish Beef Stew (Stoofvlees, Carbonnades Flamandes)

Flemish Beef Stew wit Fries, aka Stoofvlees
Flemish Beef Stew wit Fries, aka Stoofvlees – Image courtesy of Visit Flanders on Flickr

Flemish beef stew, or stoofvlees, is a hearty Belgian dish made with chunks of beef slow-cooked in a rich beer-based sauce with onions, thyme, and bay leaves. It’s often served with bread, fries, or mashed potatoes to soak up all that scrumptious gravy. This comforting meal is perfect for cold winter days, or anytime you’re craving some good ol’ home cooking.

Mussels with Fries (Moules-Frites)

Mussels for lunch in Belgium
Mussels for lunch in Belgium

If you’re a seafood lover, this classic Belgian dish is for you. Mussels are steamed in a savory broth of white wine, garlic, onions, and herbs, then served with a heaping side of—you guessed it—Belgian fries! This popular meal can be found in restaurants throughout the country, especially during the summer months when mussels are in season.

Eel Stew (Paling in’t groen, Anguille au vert)

Eel stew (aka Anguille au vert) – Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Another traditional Belgian favorite is eel stew. Sure, it might sound a little gross, but give it a shot if you are in Belgium.

This dish features tender eel cooked in a flavorful green sauce made from a mix of herbs, like parsley, tarragon, and chervil. It’s a unique and tasty combination that’s typically served with boiled potatoes or bread.

Endive with Ham and Cheese Sauce (Witloof met kaas en hesp, Chicon au jambon)

This creamy, comforting dish consists of an endive (a leafy green vegetable) wrapped in ham, smothered in a velvety cheese sauce, and baked to perfection. It’s a popular meal during the colder months and pairs perfectly with a glass of Belgian beer.

Personally, I find endives to be quite bitter, but some people love this dish. So, if you are up for something new and interesting, this might be just the ticket.

Vol-au-vent (Koninginnehapje)

Vol-au-vent (Koninginnehapje)
Vol-au-vent (Koninginnehapje)

Vol-au-vent, or “Koninginnehapje” in Flemish, is a light, flaky puff pastry filled with a savory chicken and mushroom cream sauce. This dish is perfect for a more fancy dinner or special occasion, and it’s just as tasty as it is elegant. The trick is getting the pastry right. Or, if you are like me, find someone who can cook it well.

Cheese Croquettes

Cheese Croquettes
Cheese Croquettes

These irresistible, deep-fried balls of cheesy goodness are made from a mixture of cheese, béchamel sauce, and breadcrumbs. Cheese croquettes are a popular appetizer in Belgium, and they are often served with a side of salad or dipping sauce.

I love a bowl full of these every time I am in Belgium, even if it feels a little naughty to be eating so many of them!

Meatballs in Cherry Sauce (Frikadellen met Krieken)

This sweet and savory dish features tender meatballs smothered in a tangy cherry sauce. It’s a popular meal in the Flanders region and can be found in many Belgian homes and restaurants.

Flemish Asparagus (Asperges op Vlaamse wijze, Asperges à la flamande)

Flemish Asparagus
Flemish Asparagus – Image courtesy of VISITFLANDERS

This simple, yet elegant dish highlights the delicate flavor of asparagus, a much loved vegetable in Belgium. Traditionally served during the spring asparagus season, Flemish asparagus is boiled or steamed and topped with a mixture of chopped hard-boiled eggs, melted butter, and fresh parsley. It’s a delightful and healthy meal option for those who appreciate the finer things in life.


List of Belgian Food Specialities in Antwerp
List of Belgian Food Specialities in Antwerp

Originating from the Belgian city of Ghent, waterzooi is a creamy stew made with either chicken or fish, along with vegetables such as carrots, leeks, and potatoes. This hearty dish is perfect for warming you up on a chilly day, and it’s often enjoyed with a side of crusty bread.

Waffles (Liege Waffles & Brussels Waffles)

Ordering a Belgian Waffle in Antwerp
Ordering a Belgian Waffle in Antwerp

You can’t talk about Belgian food without mentioning waffles! Belgium is home to two main types of waffles: Liege and Brussels.

Liege waffles are made of a denser, yeast dough with pearl sugar pieces mixed in. The batter cooks with a crispy outside and a delicious sweet gooey inside with small treats of caramalised sugar throughout. They are typically served without topping, but in restaurants, people sometimes go crazy and add all sorts of things.

Brussels Waffle
Brussels Waffle – Image courtesy of VISITFLANDERS

Brussels waffles are quite a bit larger, extremely light, and square in shape. They are usually served with either powered sugar or whipped cream on top, to make them even better. I find these waffles so light you can always go for a second one!

No matter which type you prefer, Belgian waffles are a must-try when visiting the country.

Speculoos (Speculaas)

Speculoos - Lotus Biscoff in Delhaize Supermarkets
The popular Speculoos – Lotus Biscoff in Delhaize Supermarkets

These spiced shortcrust cookies are a staple in Belgian cuisine, especially during the winter holidays. Speculaas are typically made with a blend of spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, giving them a warm and comforting flavor.

At the beginning of December, you will find huge versions of this tasty treat often made in the form of Sinter Klaas. This is a popular holiday before Christmas when Belgian children not only get lots of these cookies but also presents and chocolate figurines.

Speculoos has also become famous around the world thanks to the Lotus company which makes a very sweet version of these biscuits, often called Biscoff outside of Belgian. They are often given with coffee or tea, and I can honestly say, they are great to tip in your hot beverage of choice!

Tarte au Riz – Rice Tart

A traditional Belgian dessert, tarte au riz is a creamy rice pudding baked in a pastry crust. It’s often flavored with vanilla and sometimes topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream. This sweet treat is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth after a filling Belgian meal.

Belgian Chocolates

Belgian Chocolates - Pralines from Godiva
Belgian Chocolates – Pralines from Godiva

Last, but certainly not least, Belgian chocolates are renowned worldwide for their exceptional quality and taste. With a rich history dating back to the 17th century, Belgian chocolatiers have honed their craft to create some of the finest chocolates in the world. From pralines and truffles to chocolate bars and hot cocoa, there’s something to delight every chocolate lover in Belgium.

Personally, I love going into the store at the Brussels Airport just before departing. Or, if you have more time, maybe into a Leonidis store in one of the cities to get a box of fresh pralines (a Belgian invention). It is well worth the effort.

Another thing you can do is just stock up on the likes of Cote Dor chocolate from the supermarket. It is insanely good for store-bought chocolate!

And there you have it, a casual stroll through the mouthwatering world of Belgian food! These traditional dishes are just a small sample of what this delightful European country has to offer, but they’re sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. So the next time you find yourself in Belgium or craving some Belgian cuisine, be sure to give these dishes a try. Bon appétit!

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