by Celia Thomas
I know what I like, and tend to stick to it. I always order the same thing at restaurants, and eat a lot of food without any fussy sauces or spices. So coming to Europe, I knew I was in for a change. Belgium is famous for its waffles, chocolate, and beer. They also have a variety of freaky foods that make people like me a little uneasy. But do as the Romans do, right?
Frites, with mayo
You’re probably wondering why fries are on this list. The problem wasn’t the fries, it was the big, heaping glob of mayo on top. I like mayo as a light spread on a sandwich, but eating it by the spoonful is about as appetizing as eating a stick of butter. But after the first bite, my worries were over. You don’t really even taste the mayo; it just enhances the flavor of the fries. Just think of it as eating fries with fry-flavored ketchup. 10/10 would eat again!
All Americans love cheese, that’s a given. I’m even a Cheese-head (go Packers!). Belgium is the same with cheese as they are with other European countries; all the cheeses meet up in Brussels. I’ve had a few cheeses I was familiar with, like mozzarella and Parmesan. I’ve had yellow cheeses, white cheeses, goat cheeses, cow cheeses, and cheeses that honestly smelled like rotten feet. I never thought I could get cheesed out! Good thing the cheeses come with varieties of wine and bread. I guarantee you’ll never grow bored with the hundreds of possible combinations.
Mussels and Oysters
I had a bad feeling about this one. I am not a fan of seafood. I had never had them before, but I knew I did not want to try the cold, watery mollusk on my plate. So I closed my eyes, grabbed my fork, and downed it. What do you know, it’s not half bad! The have a briny taste (almost exactly like salt water), but the texture isn’t bad at all. They’re not my favorite food in the world, but I’ve had them, and that’s all that counts!
Cool, a dish named after us! Not cool, it’s raw beef… this meat, mayonnaise, and spices dish was named after Americans for the use of the meat grinder used to prepare the beef. It’s formed into a small patty and eaten cold. I’ve always been taught not to eat raw meat, and all of the steaks I’ve had are cooked well-done. One bite and I was hooked. Once you get over the fact that it’s raw, you experience the awesome sensation of meaty goodness. If you still can’t get over the fact that it’s uncooked, just ask your host to throw it in the frying pan for a couple minutes (it’s just as tasty then, too).
Slimy, icky, with cute little faces begging you not to eat them. Too bad, they were delicious! I had a big bowl full of tiny steamed snails that surprisingly had the taste and consistency of ravioli. You take the shell and pick out the snail with a toothpick, then pop them in your mouth; they’re as fun to eat as they are tasty. They do look a little unappealing once out of the shell, but they go down easily.
Maybe I’m not as adventurous as Andrew Zimmern, but I like my own version of Bizarre Foods. Travelling like a Belgian, dining like a Belgian. I’m living the Belgian life!