Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Vive Le Cuisine Belgique!!

Belgian cuisine is as diverse as the country itself, influencing the world with their  chocolates,frites and waffles. There are also influences from neighboring countries of France, Holland and Germany, but reworked to a distinctly Belgian taste. It is a cuisine of the sea and the land, perfectly married together.

Belgium was one of the first ":manufactured" countries, having been established in 1830. The original people, the Belgae were a Celtic-Germanic mix of people.Through centuries and the French Revolution the country either belonged to France or The Netherlands.It  finally came into its own during the Belgian Revolution of 1830 when the  French  nationals of the country's southern region overthrew the despotic rule of the Dutch king William I. The Dutch influence is still felt in some of the cuisine, especially the seafood.Mussels or moules are huge  throughout the country and feature largely in stateside Belgian restaurants , especially in the Manhattan ones. A pot of steamed mussels in white wine,or moules Marniere  is a treat.It is a savory and briny blend of plump mussels steamed in white wine, garlic, tarragon and parsley. Some chefs add cream to it for more lushness. Eels are also popular  as they are served in an herbal green sauce, rich with spinach and parsley, tarragon and dill . Mint and sage are also added for more flavor along with an onion. A truly hearty dish is carbonade flamande,a take on the famed French dish, boeuf Bourguignon. It  loaded with beef and onions along with beer and mustard.Thyme and bay leaves are also added to it, and it's served with a crusty baguette.

Of course most of these dishes are served with the famed frites or fries, first made as early as 1760. This is where America gets its' fries from however there is a slight twist. Pomme frites are served with mayo along with other sauces that features tomatoes, garlic , peppers and pickles.. They are usually bought from friteries , stands or restaurants that feature them along with kebobs,carbonade flamade as well as meatballs , hamburgers and sausage.Many Belgian home chefs have fryers at home and make them fresh on a regular basis, using beef fat for the frying oil. This gives them a more meatier flavor. Waffles are another Belgian import, beloved around the world. The original recipe produces a lighter crisper version usually served with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and occasionally a dark chocolate sauce, Chocolate, too , has put the country squarely on the map of culinary contributors.It's been associated with the country since the 1630s when the country was under Spanish rule and raw cacao was being brought in from Mesoamerica. It was Belgian chocolatiers who gave us the praline, a chocolate dipped nougat and the fancy ballotin box.

Belgium cuisine has influenced the world. It's is an amazing blend of cuisines , and influences  melded together to  create a mouth watering array of savory and sweet . We have them to thank for our favorites, from our waffles to our fries to our chocolates.!

Stay strong Belgium, our hearts and thoughts are with you, toujours!


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