Would you give the other lesser-known Belgian eats a try? I hope the answer is YES because if it’s ‘NO’, then boy… you’re gonna miss out on a delectable European cuisine. There really is so much more to Belgian cuisine than the fries, waffles, and chocolates that we have come to love.
#23 Chicken with Fries & Applesauce Kip met frieten en appelmoes / Poulet-frites-compote
(Flemish regional dish) If you haven’t tried eel before, don’t fear; it’s a very tasty meat that has a texture similar to chicken but of course with the taste of fish. For Paling in ‘t Groen, these meaty fish pieces are stewed in a thick green sauce made of mixed herbs, giving it an overall savor that’s pronounced and refreshing!
You should try the Waterzooi Brussels one with chicken or OOstende one with fish. The "boulettes sauce tomates" with fries of course was one of my favorite when I was in high school. Et le gateau "St Honore" the Belgian one, different from the French one
Beer is Belgium’s famous alcoholic beverage; but other than that, you should also know about jenever, said to be the traditional and national spirit of Belgium for over 500 years!
This is a type of meat sausage that, as the name goes, is mixed with blood (it also has breadcrumbs). The mention of ‘blood’ might scare you from this but give it a try! It’s delicious in its own way; it is grilled, sauteed, barbecued or eaten raw and best served with potatoes and apple sauce.
So other than fries, what you can also see in a frituur are numerous types of fried meat. My favorites would be the frikandel or curryworst (I am a sucker for special curryworst which has added fresh onions and lots of ketchup + mayonnaise), bitterballen, boulet, Mexicano, and kroketten!
Chicken + Fries + Apple Sauce = simple, but a mix that really works and tickles your tastebuds! If I say so myself, it’s the perfect Belgian comfort food. Guaranteed!
The unofficial national dish of Belgium: mussels with fries! It sounds like an odd combination, I know, but it really works.
Most beef stews or beef bourguignon are prepared with wine, but with Belgians they mix it with something different. What else, but… BEER! And it is pure genius. It’s very tasty and rich! Lekker!
To add to the frenzy of chocolate, I even noticed that there are various things here that they try to put chocolate into—which is expected—and Belgians love it themselves (duh) though I do notice that they often eat chocolate… like a LOT! For breakfast, after tea, after coffee, etc. (It’s actually only in Belgium that I experienced being given a piece of chocolate whenever I order coffee or tea.)
It’s just utterly divine that every other country in the world tries to smack a ‘Belgian chocolate’ label on their product as they try to imitate and replicate the real thing… yet no one will ever beat the chocolate here. NO ONE!
NOTE: There are health concerns given how this is made of raw beef, however it is generally safe since the preparation is made clean; there’s very low chance of bacterial infection here. But if you’re pregnant or suffering from a illness, keep away from this since at your current state, you are more susceptible to risks of infection.
Every time that I land into a new country, I always make it a point to try the local cuisine! So after almost a total of 7 months worth of stay/visits here in Belgium, I’ve come up with this top 25 list of things that everyone should eat and drink when in Belgium!
Oooh, thanks for the tip! I actually haven't heard of that yet so I'll surely look into it. As for missing your home country's food, I know what you mean! I'm a foreigner here in Belgium so I miss the Philippines' culinary dishes too (ingredients are also very hard to come by).
Other than this combo, mussels are prepared in a lot of ways here: it can be natural, in a garlic cream, or in a form called ‘Moules marinière’ (like the photo above: it has white wine, shallots, parsley and butter—this broth is amazing.)
It’s primarily used as a spread for breads or tartines (open-faced sandwiches) that is accompanied with cheese. Otherwise it is used as a sauce or part of a sauce for some meat dishes or as toppings for waffles and pancakes.
You must have heard of speculoos! I mean you should have. Well then, it’s time for you to know that it originated in the Netherlands and Belgium since it’s customarily served on December 5 and 6 to celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day (it was created in the shape of St. Nicholas).
If you really don’t like the blood sausage, here’s the alternative for you: white sausage made of pork without the blood, but with milk. So the relish for this one will be more delicate. I love eating this for breakfast! Belgians in general, grill or saute this and mix it with mashed potatoes or apple compote.
Oooh thanks for the tip Nicole! I will definitely take note of that ;)
All that history aside, one thing that we can definitely agree on is that Belgian Fries are awesome. The secret is double frying of course; ensuring that it’s soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. An interesting thing about this though is that Belgians love dipping it in mayonnaise instead of ketchup. It might sound weird at first but after trying it out, it’s actually a great combination!
It’s made into small tarts like this, but there are big pie versions in bakeries. Basically, it’s like a custard mix of rice and milk/cream which is then glazed with egg. It’s sweet but very heavenly!
This is actually not a ‘Belgian cuisine’ since it’s universal and eminent in most of Europe; however, if you want to experience a ‘Belgian thing’ and eat like the Belgians do, there are a lot of sandwich shops that have a LOT of choices for bread type, toppings, and spreads. (I am in love with how fresh their bread is!)
(Originated in Verviers near Liège – Walloon [south] part of Belgium) One of my favorites!
Now if you don’t know this yet, Belgium has 3 official languages which are: Flemish (a local dialect of Dutch), French, and German. Naturally, food and drinks would be listed in these languages but a majority of the restaurants just use the Flemish and French translation (which I will indicate for each number; though sometimes I will still keep the pure Dutch translation).
If McDonalds is the first thing that comes to your mind when it comes to fast food, here in Belgium, it would rather be the frituur and they are insanely popular (which makes sense because these are the ones that sell Belgian fries; with this, it makes me wonder actually, why McDonalds is even here—then again they’re not a lot in numbers, and their stronger competitor/equivalent that is more in numbers would rather be the Belgian-owned fast food chain: Quick).
TRIVIA: This is said to be the favorite meal of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V (who was born in Ghent).
A typical fare in Flanders (north of Belgium): stoemp is made of mashed potatoes with vegetables like celery, shallots, and onions. Some restaurants offer this with cream and/or milk and then paired with bacon, fried egg, sausage, minced beef, fish, or even horse (yes, they eat horse meat here too! I haven’t tried one yet though).
This is actually a Flemish thing and the rabbit, starting in the early 1900s, was an important source of protein for the poorer part of the population. Today, it’s still a kind of meat used by everybody, but chiefly for special occasions. There’s actually another rabbit dish and it’s called as konijn in geuze wherein the rabbit is mixed with ‘geuze’: a type of Belgian lambic beer.
Pair it off with fries or bread (or if you’re Asian like me, rice) and it becomes even more of a wonderful grub!
#22 “Eel in the Green” Paling in ‘t groen / Anguilles au vert
Also famous in the Netherlands, these are deep-fried balls made of sweet dough. It’s often sprinkled with powdered sugar and served in paper cones (normally found in fair grounds and in Christmas markets)
Food Of Belgium
#12 Steak Tartare “Martino” / Préparé, or Filet Américain
(They actually have different dips for their fried stuff and one dip that you should try is Andalouse; a special Belgian sauce made up of mayonnaise, tomato paste, and peppers! It’s sooooo good!)
These shrimps are very juicy and tasty! They are tiny grey shrimps known as the ‘caviar of the North Sea‘ and in this, they are frequently served in a salad stuffed inside a tomato. However they can also be just on top of a salad mixed with mayonnaise and spices, just eaten directly with no mixes, or served unpeeled (commonly accompanied with a good Belgian beer!)
#6 Liège syrup Luikse siroop / Sirop de Liège
Before I go on, there are two things that you need to know first about the Belgian cuisine:
This is a kind of main meal made of potato gratin with endives or chicory, typically in béchamel sauce with cheese. A ‘Belgian way’ of preparing this is that the endives are each wrapped in a slice of ham, topped with gratin, béchamel sauce, and melted cheese (also called Witloof met hesp). So how about that for a peculiar kind of gratin?
For this, it’s important to remember that there’s NO such thing as a ‘Belgian Waffle’ in Belgium since that is rather a type of waffle that’s coined in North America. So naturally, you won’t ever find a ‘Belgian Waffle’ type here in Belgium since they have a LOT of varieties, 3 of the most common ones are:
Another typical fare from Flanders (originating from Ghent), waterzooi is a rich and creamy stew with a soup base that’s usually made up of egg yolk, cream, butter and thickened vegetable broth. Originally it was mixed with fish but today, chicken is more commonly used. This is the perfect go-to food for you especially when the colder days in Belgium are in!