Stoemp & une blanche ce soir

28 09 2007

Tonight I’m having a real Belgian meal in a real Belgian restaurant, Les Brassins! I already know what I will order: a blanche (wheat beer or just translated directly from French; a white beer) with stoemp et saucisse. Stoemp is mashed potatoes mixed with some kind of vegetable, it can be carrots, leek, or spinach – my favourite is with spinach. Saucisse is a sausage of course, but a real meaty one, almost like a German wurst. It’s a heavy meal but I like it, especially when it’s a bit cold and rainy outdoors – like today!

Other Belgian specialities are:

  • Frites – French fries are not French, they are Belgian! In the Netherlands they are called vlaams fritten/fritjes – Flemish fries (please correct my spelling if needed!). They are preferably eaten with mayonnaise but you can also choose from sauces called Andalouse (O’s favourite), Cocktail, and hm… I always take mayonnaise and/or Andalouse so I can’t think of any other sauces (if you have once had fries with mayo it’s difficult to go back to ketchup, I assure you!). The best fries in Brussels are supposedly from La Maison Antoine on Place Jourdan – there is always a long queue infront of the friterie. However, you can find a friterie/frituur/frietkot in almost every square in Belgium. You can read more about the Belgian fries on this web-site.
  • Moules frites – that is not deep-fried mussels as I first thought when I arrived to Brussels, it is mussels and fries! I don’t eat mussels so I am not really an expert but I have learnt that you shouldn’t eat mussels in a month which doesn’t contain an -r, i.e not May, June, July or August. The best mussels are from Zeeland, in the Netherlands so the very Belgian dish is actually not very Belgian (the fries are probably made from Belgian potatoes though?!). The mussels are served in their shells in a big, black pot – cooked in cream & white wine is the most traditional way I think. Lots of fries on the side of course.
  • Carbonnade – (stoofvlees in Flemish) is a stew made with dark beer and eaten with… you guessed it – frites! O loves it and will chose this dish even if he is eating in the fanciest of Belgian restaurants! It’s typical Belgian husmanskost (everyday, traditional food) -like the stoemp, heavy and warming.
  • Waterzooi is also a stew but made with cream and vegetables. There is a fish version and a poultry version.
  • Pitta (kebab) is very popular as well, and has almost taken over the traditional, Belgian friteries. Close to the Grand’ Place in Brussels there is a street which is nowadays called Pitta Street because it is full with pitta places – either Gree/Cypriot or Turkish. They are open until late in the night so perfect for anybody who needs a night-time snack before heading home after a night out. A traditional (?) pitta place is Le Perroquet close to Sablon, it has a nice art-nouveau decor. I am not a big fan of pitta as I have already mentioned, I prefer my dürüm falafel…

Well, one thing is sure – in Belgium you eat very well! I have been meaning to buy the Everybody eats well in Belgium Cookbok – it has been in Waterstone’s for as long as I can remember but a few weeks ago when I finally wanted to buy it, it turns out that it is out of print!! What a bummer! And there are no other comprehensive Belgian cookbooks – I am so disappointed! It is so popular that second hand copies are being sold on from as much as £ 38.28 which is just a little bit too much for me!

Have a great weekend and I hope that you will all eat well tonight!

PS My sister is at the Annual Swedish Book fair in Gothenburg at the moment, she works for a publishing house called Bra Böcker and she keeps sending me messages that she has spoken to Niklas Strömstedt (Swedish singer), Leif Pagrotsky (former minister) and Margot Wallström (Swedish Commissioner – I have been working in Brussels for the Commission for 5.5 years and I have never spoken to her, seen her yes… life’s unfair!). Arrghh, I hope that she at least brings back some free books for me 😉




8 responses

28 09 2007

Kul att läsa om den belgiska maten och de specialitéer som finns där. De berömda pommfritten hade jag hört talas om. Belgien verkar verkligen vara The French Frie country nr 1.

28 09 2007

We have a couple of Belgian friends here in Dubai ( Wallons of Italian origin ) who have told us about the concept of “friterie”…we were flabbergasted, just as much as they were when we told them that french people did their fries themselves at home (first shock for them), that we would deep fry any kind of potato (second shock) into either sunflower oil or “Vegetaline”, a vegetal fat compound supposed to be healthy for frying..they almost died upon hearing the latter description. To them, fries can only be made in a specialised officine, with a very specific type of potatoes, and fried in Beef fat..not to mention the religion around sauces..we’ve heard all about the andalouse sauce, too, and they can’t understand how we could live so long without knowing about it.
As an unconditional lover of french fries myself, I wanted to try the recipe in France during my summer holiday and therefore went on to search for the “graisse de boeuf”…I’ve asked half a dozen butchers, Traiteurs and farmers..they all looked upon me as if I was some kind of weirdo. I couldn’t find any and had to make do with my mother in law’s sacred ‘Vegetaline’ (yuck!). Now Cécile and I have decided we should make the trip to Belgium to taste this intriguing but promising Belgian recipe of doing the original “frites”..
Cécile being of Flemish ascent, and a big fan of Moules Frites, the trip will be a nice way for her to reconnect to her roots, and for me to gain an extra few pounds..
This is of course, unless the division of Belgium happens so fast that it would become a simple trip to the new northern region of france..let’s hope our Belgian friends find a modus vivendi which will allow us Europeans to continue enjoying their facinating country, rich culture and lovely food.

28 09 2007

Mehdi, I would never forgive you if you go to Belgium NOW when I’m leaving!! I have after all come to France twice to visit you and once almost (Luxembourg)… It’s true, the beef fat sounds pretty disgusting and I’m amazed that you even considered trying to find some, but I guess the Belgian fries ARE good because of it! And the sauce andalouse is just yummy!

28 09 2007

Desiree, japp frites i stora mängder är melodin i Belgien – och det är gott! Så länge man inte funderar över att de är friterade i “beef fat” som min vän Mehdi har hört (och det är nog sant, äckligt nog!).

29 09 2007

Don’t worry Petra, there are no immediate plans to come over, when we actually “plan” something actually means we put it on our lengthy “To Do List” but with no set dates..logistics ain’t easy with a baby..

6 10 2007

New discovery ! We had dinner again yesterday with our Belgian friends and we talked about your blog ( eh oui, mademoiselle !). Do you know the “Lapin Sauce” ? Apparently, it’s a classic for fries ? Ils sont fous ces Belges.

8 10 2007
Petra H

Mehdi, I refuse to eat rabbit! That is just barbarian 😉 In Sweden we only eat hare… they are less cute!
Wow, I feel honoured that you talk about my blog with your Belgian friends – I wonder what they would think of my impressions from their country?
I gave your phone number to my friend’s boyfriend, I can’t remember when he is supposed to go to Dubai…

19 04 2010
Drinking coffee in Brussels « Petchie’s adventures

[…] favourite beer – Hoegaarden blanche (white beer, i.e wheat beer) with a slice of lemon, is the most refreshing on a terrace in the […]

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