Tag Archives: belgium

World Cooking – Belgium

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Belgium
Progress: 6/193

Today’s entry in my quest to cook my way around the world marks the first time that I am making something from a country that I have already visited. Also, this is about as close to home as I can get without making something from the UK (which I am not going to be doing for a very long time).

The cuisine of Belgium is one of those that is heavily influenced by its neighbours. With culinary juggernauts France and Germany just across the border (as well as The Netherlands to the north) the food is a crossroads between Romantic and Germanic cuisine.

You also have the interesting split between the Northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders and the Southern French-speaking region of Wallonia… so I wanted to make sure I picked dishes that could be found in both regions rather than just focusing on one.

Main: Gegratineerde witloof / Chicons au gratin

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 734/751Food item: Belgian Endive

The stars truly aligned with this dish. I only recently discovered that my local Morrison’s sells Belgian endives (called chicory here in the UK) and this helped to give Belgium priority when choosing countries. After all, I don’t know when the season for this vegetable ends and whether or not they’ll continue to be sold next year.

So, I decided to make endive gratin – which is pretty much parboiled heads of endive that is baked in a Mornay sauce with slices of ham. I went with the Raymond Blanc recipe for this one which sandwiches the ham between the endive heads rather than wrapping each individual endive with a slice of ham.

I’m glad that this recipe calls for the parboiling of the endives as it removed pretty much all the bitterness and left behind something creamy like palm hearts, but still with a slight bitterness that is characteristic of the vegetable. It was also a great flavour absorber (especially of the mustard in the sauce) which helped to make this dish feel incredibly satisfying.

Dessert: Brussels Waffles

I cannot quite believe just how many types of waffles there are in Belgium. It really made my research for this recipe all the more interesting as it meant I had to pick something typical whilst also being representative. I settled on Brussels Waffles because I loved the idea that I would be making something to the same recipe as a blogger’s grandmother.

What sets Brussels waffles apart from others is the use of both egg whites and yeast as leavening agents. This means that I was lucky to experience some incredibly fluffy waffles unlike anything I’ve eaten outside of Belgium. I mean these are real Belgian waffles, unlike the Belgian waffles you get elsewhere that are far denser and based on a simplified version of the Brussels waffle.

I had to go whole hog on these and serve these crisp and fluffy waffles with a dusting of icing sugar, some whipped cream and a dash of chocolate sauce. The way that the sugar began to caramalize on top… well it just made all the work feel worthwhile.

The Great E.U. Quest – Belgium

 List Item: Visit all EU countries
Progress: 12/28

Belgium_Flag_bigCountry: Belgium
Year first visited: 1999

Sad fact to get me started off here. I was unsure when I first visited Belgium but then remembered that whilst I was there I purchased the Belgian entry for Eurovision that year; it’s comforting how some things never change. So I know that I first went to Belgium in 1999. Thank you Vanessa Chinitor.

As of now I have been to both Brussels and Bruges which are, with the addition of Antwerp, the main places you get told to visit when you go over to Belgium. Since I have no idea where the photographs of my trip to Brussels are I will focus mainly on my first visit which was to the chocolate-loving, lace-producing, beer-brewing city of Bruges (apologies if this causes offense but my main memories involve these three things, and of course, how beautiful it was.)

belgium2The trip to Bruges was made as a celebration for my grandparents (pictured below with a triple-chinned me) who were celebrating a major wedding anniversary. Seeing how this was some time ago I am going to make an educated guess that this would have been 40 years of marriage.belgium1Being that this was a trip made 15 years ago there are some gaps in my memory banks but there are some things I remember clearly. Like the argument my parents had trying to find the hotel as we drove in circles and I pretended to be asleep in the back seat. This amazing coffee shop that had a roaring fire and free chocolates. Singing ‘C’est La Vie’ by B*Witched with my mum as we walked through the streets in the evening.

Then there is one of the more vivid memories; the trip back from Bruges. We got there and back by SeaCat which was a high speed catamaran service. On the return trip the waters in the Channel were particularly choppy…and I had a particularly greasy lunch of chicken and chips (it’s amazing what things stick in your memory). So I was sick violently sick projectile vomited… over my father. My aim was impressive since my stuffed dog Patch, who was lying on the table in front of me, escaped and remained vomit-free. I spent the rest of the trip outside in the freezing cold with my mum in an effort to make me feel less sick (and presumably my dad went to clean himself up).

Memories.

Around The World in 100 Films – Start Point

List Item: Watch films from 100 different nations
Progress: 22/100

Time for me to open up the second of my three film bucket list items with a rather arbitrary goal of seeing films from 100 different nations. Unlike the Oscar list item this is something that can be permanently crossed off unless I suddenly get the urge to add another batch of countries to keep this going.

Now, I have decided to count countries as long as I watched the film after I put this onto my bucket list which was (yes I made a note) on August 5th 2013. This means that some countries (e.g. Finland, South Africa, China and Israel) are not on the list yet despite me having seen them in the past. I figured using this cut off point would serve as a way to make this more challenging whilst also keeping Burkina Faso (still stoked about that one).

Whilst I was preparing this list I saw there were 21 countries on the list and instantly envisioned doing a really cool triangle number diagram as you can see below:WorldCinemaTriangleNotice the problem? Well in making that list I had forgotten that I saw a Polish film at the end of January which means poor Hungary (my most recent nation) has to lay on the outskirts since I decided to do this in order of seeing them. My inner math-geek is not impressed with this. It was later pointed out to me that a film I thought was Australian was from New Zealand, now my inner flag-geek is unhappy too.

Still 22 countries down, 78 to go. Not a bad place to start with, although there are not many of the big film nations left which will make this interesting.

Any film suggestions for yet unwatched countries will be VERY much appreciated. Bear in mind re-watches are not allowed here so films like Tsotsi, Drifting Clouds and Waltz With Bashir will not count.

  1. Germany – Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)
  2. U.S.A. – Robocop
  3. Netherlands – De Vierde Man(The Fourth Man)
  4. Czech Republic – Kolja (Kolya)
  5. Italy – La Strada
  6. Burkina Faso – Sarraounia
  7. Argentina – El Secreto De Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes)
  8. Japan – Zatoichi Monogatari (The Story of Zatoichi)
  9. Brazil  – Cidade De Deus (City of God)
  10. Denmark – Melancholia
  11. United Kingdom – Blowup
  12. Norway – Flåklypa Grand Prix (Pinchcliffe Grand Prix)
  13. France – La règle du jeu (The Rules of the Game)
  14. New Zealand – The Piano
  15. Poland – Popiól i diament (Ashes and Diamonds)
  16. Spain – El espíritu de la colmena (The Spirit of the Beehive)
  17. Sweden – Viskningar och Rop (Cries and Whispers)
  18. Belgium – Ernest & Célestine
  19. Greece – Kynodontas (Dogtooth)
  20. Canada – The Sweet Hereafter
  21. Algeria – Z
  22. Hungary – A torinói ló(The Turin Horse)

The Great E.U. Quest – The Starting Point

List Item: Visit all EU countries
Progress: 12/28

I am a very lucky person in a number of ways. Despite being the child of a single mother (who is the best mum a guy can ask for) we still managed to have the most amazing holidays. I still can not quite believe how many different countries I have under my belt at the age of 24.

This particular bucket list item is a curious one since it is another that has a potential to be completed and then become incomplete within my lifetime. The item being to visit every country within the European Union.

Europe Visited - 1

The map (see above) shows how far I have gotten so far (although due to scaling there is no way to see Malta but for this exercise it should be a yellow colour since I haven’t seen it).

So far I have had the privilege of visiting 12 of the current E.U. nations and they are coloured in as blue on the map, something that struck me immediately is how all the countries I have been to are linked together on the map; except for Portugal since I have not been to Spain yet.

At some point in the future I will write about visiting each one when I am up to date with all the items I have already since I did promise proof. But for now I am writing this to officially class this item as being in progress.

If you have any suggestions of trips I should make to help cross off some of the remaining 16 E.U. nations (Spain, Ireland, Greece, Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg) I would love to hear from you since I have yet to book a holiday for this year :-D.