The small western European country of Belgium is sandwiched between France, Germany, and the Netherlands. This charming country has three official languages – French, German and Dutch and boast of a diverse and world renowned culinary specialities apart from its historic cities and towns like Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, Ghent, and Liege. Belgium is blessed with ornate old churches, key art and culture museums, World War I and II sites, and important offices and headquarters of the European Union and the Europol. Belgium is also one of the market leaders when it comes to chocolates, waffles, and desserts along with a wide array of European street food. Infact, desserts and street food are one of the must have experience of Belgium. Holidayme presents 10 amazing food and sweets from Belgium that you must try during your next visit!
Rich, creamy, and darker shade makes the Belgian chocolate one of the highest selling chocolates and ice cream flavours in the world. Belgium’s fascination of chocolates started way back in the 17th century, when Spanish explorers introduced cocoa beans from South America. Chocolate quickly become a symbol of luxury and became highly popular for its hot chocolate drink, preferred by the rich and nobility. Today, the fascination with chocolates is still going strong in Belgium’s food market, supermarkets, and gift stores. Don’t forget to try Praline Chocolates, known for its different shapes, colours and molten chocolate filled with different flavours. Belgian chocolate forms a key part of Belgian food and is one the shining symbol of Belgian desserts.
The delicious candies of Cuberdon are easily identified by its conical purple colour filled with liquid syrup of gum arabic, starch, glucose, and sugar. The story of Cuberdon is also interesting. It was an accident which discovered the idea of Cuberdon. A discarded medical syrup in 1873 turned hard on the outside while retaining the liquid inside. It gave the idea to a pharmacist to produce Cuberdons and since then, its one of the favourite candies in Belgium. Today, Cuberdons comes in different flavours like raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, lemon, apple, anise, and chocolate. It’s even getting exported to USA these days with a new cola flavour. Don’t forget to try Cuberdon as its a highly popular Belgian sweets.
Belgian Waffle has assumed a status of culinary icon of the country which has several delightful desserts and culinary specialities. The simple Belgian Waffle is made of lighter batter, deeper pockets and large squares and mostly served with whipped cream and strawberries or vanilla ice cream. Today it has several versions and is available worldwide under different names, but in its country of origin, Belgian Waffles still rule the heart of locals and tourists alike. It also forms a key breakfast Belgian food and is certainly among the top Belgian desserts to try in the country.
Belgium has plenty of cookies and on top of the chain, stands Speculoos. It tastes crunchy, spicy and is the mythical cookie of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. It’s an important part of Christmas tradition in the low countries of Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, and France. Each year, children get Speculoos is different shapes and size as part of their Christmas gift. The cookie can trace its origin way back to the 16th century and today it also has a cookie butter and has popularised another world class dessert – Speculoos cheesecake. This historic cookie is a key part of Belgian food tradition and is ideal for sharing gifts back home.
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You may know French Fries, the most common fast food available everywhere in different versions, but its Belgium where the dish originated. In fact, Belgians claim that its Belgian Fries and not French! Available in every food markets, shopping streets and food trucks, and is served in paper cones and boxes, Belgian Fries are a rage in the country. It has several versions and served with mayonnaise and several types of sauces. Belgian Fries also happens to be the most loved Belgian street food and has epic fan following among tourists and locals alike. Even though neither France nor Belgium can prove its geographic origin, who cares! As long as you enjoy the delicious Belgian fries, it doesn’t matter if its Belgian or French.
Another classic sandwich of Belgium, Mitraillette was invented in Brussels. It’s a sandwich served with Belgian fries with fried meat and a wide choice of sauces. Generally, eaten with mayonnaise and often served with tomato slices, chopped carrots and onions. It has a cult following in the country and its often fondly referred as an invention of the capital. Such is the fan following of Mitraillette that one must eat the sandwich along with other Belgian delights. Nowadays, even a kebab version of Mitraillette is also available, continuing the fascination for this popular Belgian fast food.
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A wonderful dessert that originated from the Flemish part of Belgium, Mattertaart is an artisanal treat which has a continuous presence since the early 16th century. Made of creamy cheesecake filling overlapped by a puff pastry crust, it depends on the top quality of milk and dairy for its flavours. Flaky and light, this amazing dessert is also a “Protected geographical indication” that ensures its exclusivity and quality control. One of the classics of Belgian food and desserts, don’t forget to try this wonderful traditional dessert.
Rijsttaart is a simple and yet, all-time classic dessert of rice pudding. The dessert even featured in Dutch Renaissance era painter, Pieter Brugel’s famous painting – The Peasant Wedding. There is even a popular saying in Belgium that all who go to heaven get to eat endless cups of rice pudding with golden spoons. It’s made of condensed milk, rice and infused with spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and saffron and a generous layer of brown sugar. This amazing Belgian dessert is all about history, tradition and delightful taste.
Another ancient Belgian pudding recipe comprises of an amazing idea of using the leftover bread. The pudding is made by adding warm milk, eggs, and raisins before kneading the mixture and baking in an oven. You can add soaked raisins in rum or cognac as well to give a bit of extra flavour. The recipe is old and just like rice pudding has a popular following in the country as is considered as key traditional dessert. Broodpudding reflects the rich history and tradition of Belgian food and desserts.
A popular Christmas dessert, the Yule Log is a sponge cake decorated to look like an actual wooden log. It’s served with sugar to resemble snow fall. This amazing dessert is made of chocolate, sugar and iced rolled to make a roll. A bark like texture is produced by a fork and other decoration includes pieces of actual tree branches, fresh berries and mushrooms made of meringue or marzipan. Yule Log is all about Christmas celebrations and is a key traditional Belgian sweet. Don’t forget to try Yule Log in case you are travelling to Belgium during the Christmas time.