Wednesday, 28 October 2009

(P)Lucky Little Belgium!

Your favourite country in Europe?

Let me guess- France! No? Okay, Italy then. Fair enough. Both great.
My favourite country is actually Belgium. I can hear you giggle....

Why Belgium? Well I don't think I could ever truly truly love a country which doesn't put food right in the centre of its identity. (This isn't a food blog, but one way or another I will always come back to this topic.) And Belgian food really has it all.

Fom Salade Liegeoise, Pottekeis and Speculoos to Kwak beer which comes in its characteristic absurdly shaped glass, to Moules Frites, to cuberdons (fl. neuzekes) "un bonbon, un peu coquant, un peu fondant" (see image below and And there is waterzooi- which is actually a mixture of chicken and vegetables, although it sounds like a fish), and not to forget Belgian chocolates of course. (Belgians consume 8.3kg of the stuff per annum per person).

Belgium is multi-lingual (French, Flemish and a little German), truly multi-cultural (8% of the population are foreign-born), and seems totally chaotic when it comes to choosing a government.

Which brings one to the downside -Belgium has relatively high unemployment, and there is a nasty divide between Flanders and Wallonia - the latter commanding about 20% more productivity than the latter. And that in turn, causes tensions between the two groups.

But why should that necessarily be such a terrible thing? I think all European countries (no: countries the world over) live with strife, a certain amount of mutual prejudice, and competition. It's part of being a nation. They'll work it out. Eventually, they might even find a mutually suitable government.

Belgium sometimes feels very French, strolling down the old town of Liège for example. But turn a corner, and you would swear you're in Holland. Other towns have a distinctly romantic German Eifel atmosphere, with timbered houses and medieval little bridges.

Ah! Les MoulesFrites! Mosselen met friet!

So let's just hop on the Eurostar and visit Bruges, Ghent, Liège, Antwerp, Namur or Dinant - they all sound so evocative!

P.S. Don't worry- this won't be a geography blog. Interculturalism is a VERY big tent.


  1. See one of the finest railway stations in the world , Antwerpen Centraal come to life!

  2. sue_bailey
    Never been to Belgium but this has tempted me!

  3. Great to hear you like our country so much! Yes, we do have some great food options here ;-) (I really like the 'neuzekes') AND old buildings, beautiful cities,... all great places to visit ( For everyone who hasn't been here, come visit us!

  4. Thank you Sue, Isabelle, LondonJazz - I think it's a lovely country - so much to discover - Antwerpen Centraal is a great example!

  5. I love Belgium - every single bit of it, although sometimes I wonder for how long "Belgium" per se will exist for...

  6. you should do a foodblog as well and a geography blog, its all rather interesting. I never heard of waterzooi before but I am sure I surpass the Belgian national consumption of chocolate. by far

  7. My favorite cities in europe are
    not london~
    nava writz

  8. Hi! I love Belgium, too! I studied in Brussels some years ago and I miss Belgian frites, gaufres and chocolates, although here in Barcelona we have croissants and Spanish hot thick chocolate :)
    It's a very interesting country, you feel you're "in the middle of Europe" and you can easily go to France and Holland.
    J'adore la Belgique :)