We think one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're perusing the charming streets of Brussels or cruising down romantic canals in Bruges, you're never too far from delicious food in Belgium. This European country might be known around the world for its chocolate and waffles, but there's so much more to Belgian cuisine. From steaming bowls of moules frites to syrupy cuberdon treats, here are some classic Belgian foods to try.
1. Belgian chocolate
Did you even go to Belgium if you didn’t consume copious amounts of chocolate? Belgium arguably produces some of the world's best chocolate, and with thousands of chocolate shops all over the country, you won't be able to resist trying a truffle or two. The smell of rich, velvety chocolate wafting through the streets is enough to make your mouth water and tempt you in for a taste. Visit Chocolate Nation – the world's largest Belgian chocolate museum – in Antwerp to learn what makes Belgian chocolate so unique and tasty, hand-pick your favorites at luxury chocolateries, or stock up on bars to take home at chain stores (if they make it home, that is!).
If you’re wondering how a humble bowl of frites, or fries, can make it on a ‘must-try foods to eat’ list, you haven’t tried Belgian fries. Fried twice so that the inside is fluffy and the outside is extra crunchy, the Belgians have mastered fries to a T. To eat fries the Belgian way, you need to dip them generously in creamy mayonnaise or andalouse – a tasty combination of mayo, tomato paste and peppers.
3. Moules frites
Moules frites is Belgium's national dish. Traditionally cooked by steaming mussels in a rich sauce made from butter, garlic, shallots, white wine and parsley (and sometimes a splash of cream), a piping hot bowl of moules always goes down a treat. And there's no better way to mop up the leftover sauce than with crispy fries. To eat moules, use a fork to pick your first mussel from the shell, and then use the shell as a pincer to eat the remaining mussels.
Belgian waffles, known locally as gaufres, aren't exactly a diet food (unless you’re on holiday in Belgium, that is), but they're a must-try for anyone visiting the country. Wrapped in paper and eaten plain or topped with cream, sugar, chocolate sauce, or strawberries (or all of the above), they are a delectably decadent treat. You’ll see and smell waffles being sold all over Belgium from street-side carts and markets to specialty waffle cafés.
Waffles and chocolate may steal the limelight, but these classic Belgian sweets are a big hit with the locals. A cuberdon is a cone-shaped treat made with sugar and gelatine. It's hard on the outside and deliciously syrupy in the middle. You can get them in all sorts of flavors including raspberry, blackcurrant and apple.
Speculoos are thin, gingerbread cookies usually served at Christmas time, but they’re baked all year round and you’ll never struggle to find them. With a unique spicy flavor, they are very moreish and it's hard to stop at one!
7. Pom koek
Pom koek is a traditional Belgian cake made with honey, coffee and warming spices including cinnamon and clove. You can find it easily in coffee houses and cafés throughout Belgium. We recommend getting a coffee and a slice of pom koek if you ever need an afternoon pick-me-up while exploring.
Stoemp is the Belgian version of mashed potato and is a staple on many Belgian dinner tables. Not just your regular mash, it consists of mashed spuds, butter and/or cream, and other vegetables such as kale, celery, onions and carrots. Stoemp can be eaten as a side dish or as a main served with chunky sausages and a fried egg.
Originating in Flanders – the Dutch-speaking region in northern Belgium – in the 18th century, waterzooi is a creamy and comforting stew that is perfect to eat on a cold winter’s night. It's made with chicken or fish, vegetables and a thick broth of stock, cream, butter and egg yolks. Waterzooi is usually served with warm bread and butter to mop up the broth.
10. Carbonnade Flamande
Carbonnade Flamande, or Flemish stew, is a rich, one-pot beer and beef stew from Flanders. It's slow-cooked over low heat for several hours so that the meat tenderizes and melts in your mouth. It's typically served with fries, boiled potatoes or bread, and a glass of Belgian beer.
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