By Emma Way
Senior Elm Writer
The sound of glasses clinking and chugging beer accompanies the overwhelmingly wonderful smells of waffles and mussels in the city of Brussels.
After a three-day trip to Belgium, I can confidently say I will be back for the people and architecture but most importantly, the food. I landed in Brussels insanely early on Friday, Feb. 27 after being forced to wake up at 3 a.m. just to catch my 7 a.m. flight. With only three short days to see as much of a country as possible I got right to work sightseeing, and by sightseeing, I mean eating (and drinking).
Belgian waffles are actually a relatively new treat, only being introduced in 1958 at the Expo in Brussels, but they really took off in popularity. You cannot go a block in any city in Belgium without stumbling upon another waffle shop. Unlike American waffles, the waffles I ate this weekend are naturally sweet and truly don’t require syrup.
After you order a waffle, chefs put the waffle back in the waffle maker with an extra coating of sugar and butter, so when it reaches your hands it is still warm. Toppings are always available, but not necessary as the waffle itself has a lot of flavor. Strawberries, Nutella, or whipped cream are all common toppings. Each waffle typically starts at €1-2, but go up depending on the toppings.
There’s no ketchup with these kind of fries; instead Belgium fries are accompanied with a heap of mayonnaise. Mayo in Europe is a lot different than the mayo I’m accustomed to in the US. I’ve found it significantly sweeter and lighter than American mayo, you can actually eat it plain with fries.
It’s really not as gross as it sounds. I’m still a fries and ketchup girl at heart, but I enjoyed trying something new. Fries are a staple of the Belgian diet, and they often come in paper cones with a miniature fork so you can eat them on the go.
The chocolate is reason enough to visit Belgium. Chocolatiers surround the main square in Brussels and sell their best chocolates to tourists and locals alike. I don’t think there was a moment throughout the entire weekend that I could say no to chocolate, it’s just that good. This also unfortunately gave me a food baby for the entirety of the weekend, but it was all worth it.
Last, but definitely not least, is Belgian beer. Beer is literally the same price as water in most restaurants and bars, so why not indulge in one of the things Belgium is truly known for? I became a bit of a beer connoisseur this past weekend with draft menus that were 20 pages long and hundreds of options I had never even heard of before.
To really get to know a place in such a short period of time, you have to ignore some of the big tourist traps and go more for the food. Learning about a culture and a country means you have to live as close to local as possible, and what better way to do it than eating the foods the country is known for.
Even though eating waffles and chocolate is still such a stereotypical tourist thing to do in Belgium, but I felt like it gave me a taste of what life is like.