Don’t ever say ‘French Fries’ in Belgium.
The Belgians are very defensive about their fries because they were invented in Belgium, so make sure you call them ‘Belgian Fries’. Either way, fries are a pretty big deal over there.
BE WARNED- they put a lot of mayonnaise on the top. The first time I ordered Belgian fries, I couldn’t even see them because they were swimming in so much mayo. I learnt my lesson, and the next time I ordered fries, I passed on the mayo.
On my visit to Belgium I skipped Brussels and went straight to Belgium’s second largest city, Antwerp, to stay with a friend. Getting to Antwerp from London is pretty straight forward, and you can buy a Eurostar ticket for onward travel to ‘any Belgian destination’ for the same price as a ticket to Brussels.
In Belgium they love food and whilst I was there my friend was very keen to introduce me to all the different beers and Belgian foods. Being quite a healthy eater, most of the foods I tried at the local Friteries weren’t really to my liking since they serve a lot of deep fried stuff like Frikandel, meatballs, cheese, croquettes and hamburgers.
I did, however, enjoy some delicious mussels or ‘moules’ as they call them in a streetside café. They were served in a massive pot and cooked in a white wine sauce with celery and parsley…yum!
I was also taken to what I was told is Antwerp’s best chocolate shop, Del Rey, which is located on Appelmansstraat in the heart of Anwerp’s world famous diamond district. I took them home as a present for my Mum and they were eaten very quickly indeed!
But of course, I was particularly excited to try what Belgium is probably best known for…beer.
In the UK we’re pretty big beer drinkers, but in Belgium, serving beer is really an art form, with a different glass for every beer. There is an overwhelming amount of choice in every bar you go into, so I tried an astonishing number of beers whilst I was there- light beers, dark beers, fruit beers, Duvel, Chimay, Gauloise, Battin Fruitee, Leffe, Liefmans, Dupont…
Back at home I would usually stick to only one type of beer, but in Belgium it’s pretty normal to switch things up a bit. Another word of warning, Belgian beers are a lot stronger than normal lagers, so you’ll get drunk pretty quickly!
I have to say, Belgium had never been high on my to-do list of countries and being such a small country, I think it tends to get overlooked. If it hadn’t been for the fact that I had a friend to visit, it probably would’ve taken me a lot longer to get there. But I was pleasantly surprised and found Antwerp to be an attractive city with quaint medieval streets, impressive architecture, plenty of cozy bars and lots of shops. On a cold winters day, Antwerp looks nice and Christmassy, with enough street lights to be easily seen from space!