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Travel Photos: Fries and Mussels in Belgium

August 17, 2011

   

European trip, second stop: Belgium. I’m pretty sure I’ve never eaten more fries in such a short period of my life before, and that includes college. (And now I don’t know if I’m still recovering from the jet lag or if I’m just suffering from Belgian frite withdrawal.) I swear I didn’t even buy a single cone of fries with mayo from a Frituur– I know, I missed out, although I was tempted– it’s just that everything seemed to be served with a gigantic bowl of fries on the side:

Roasted chicken at a restaurant in Bruges

Amazing mussels and fries at a friend’s apartment in Antwerp

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Actually, not quite everything… We came across a lovely market in Brussels, and sat down to have some cheese and beer (in what would become an afternoon tradition for the following seven days in Belgium and The Netherlands…).

    

Beer, cheeses, and juicy sun-dried tomatoes.

Cheese truck!

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We stayed at a lovely B&B in Bruges, and ate this breakfast, also no fries:

The Meli Choco container on the left is a kind of Belgian-made chocolate honey.

  

And when in Belgium, there is never any shortage of waffles:

   

Or outdoor markets, with fruits, vegetables, and Middle Eastern foods:

Olives at a market in Antwerp.

Pesto and Wasabi Cheeses.

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Tagines for sale at the market in Antwerp.

We bought a few stuffed grape leaves for a snack; should have bought MANY more of them, though.

               

We ate these dark chocolate strawberries for breakfast, along with eggs and fresh bread.

    

But the real treats were the mussels. At a restaurant in Bruges, I ordered mussels in garlic butter, and was raving over the meal after each bite. (Being a slow eater anyway gives me more time for these things.) Oh, and like all the moules-frites dishes in Belgium, it came with fries.

   

However, the Bruges mussels did not hold a candle to our dinner the next night in Antwerp. We were welcomed into a friend’s apartment there, with Grimbergen (8.5% and 10% abv) beers placed in our hands. And as some of the roommates started steaming the mussels, one prepared to go out and buy the fries (but he was told to wait until just the right moment, about twenty minutes later).

     

And then, I don’t know how we did it, but the seven of us ate through multiple stock pots full of steamed mussels and platefuls of fries. The mussels were cooked in white wine and a stock made with onions, celery, carrots, and parsley (a ready-made mix of chopped Mosselgroeten, or Légumes pour Moules, sold in Belgian grocery stores). We dipped the fries in mayo or curry (!) ketchup, and the mussels into a mustard/mayo hybrid Mosselsaus. Actually, after a few bites, I started dipping my fries into the mustardy mussel sauce, too.

We even learned how to eat mussels “the Belgian way.” Pluck the first one out of its shell with your fingers, and then use that shell to scoop all of your subsequent mussels out of their shells, no fork necessary. (You still need napkins though.)

      

I must admit that no small part of the reason I went to Belgium was simply that it happens to be on the way (“on,” not “in”) between Paris and Amsterdam, but it turns out that basically everything in Belgium tastes delicious. Wish I could have stayed even longer!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    August 18, 2011 12:42 pm

    I wish this post came with a side of fries! They look so good!

  2. August 23, 2011 9:14 pm

    They were very good! Although it’s all about the dipping sauces…

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