Monday, October 8, 2012

La cuisine belge

Salut, tout le monde! C'est moi, Sabine!
It feels like it has been awhile since I posted, but I'm going to share something fun I did last weekend. Any guesses on where I am in this photo?

You can't tell? No worries! I went to a Belgian restaurant, and this is a photo of me outside. I wanted an excuse to wear my new dress, and going out to eat was kind-of a reasonable excuse, right?

Before I share some photos, there are a few things that I need to explain. In America, French restaurants typically serve foods that are somewhat "stereotypical" or more well-known to Americans. Some of these dishes are also "Americanized", too.

That may leave you asking, "Then what is true French food?" This is very hard for me to pinpoint because every region in France has its own style of cooking. There isn't just one dish or one drink that accurately represents France as a whole because like I said, this varies from region to region.

With that being said, while Belgian restaurants in America are more along the lines of stereotypically Belgian (in a native's perspective), they are the closest to what is more commonly eaten in my region, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. They are definitely closer to typical northern France cuisine than French restaurants in the States, I will say!

Something I want you to notice is the variety of beers. Belgians definitely enjoy their beer, but hey, so do those who are from my region of France! Yeah, I know that most people associate France with wine, but that is a sad cliche because beers from the Nord are excellent; I'd eagerly choose them over wine any day. I know that beer gets a bad reputation in America, but Belgian beers and Northern France beers are not like the beers in America. They are more crafted and gourmet. If you are ever in the Nord of France, I would suggest a brand of beer called Ch'ti. There are others, of course, but that is probably the most common.

Many beers are even flavored. I think it would be fun to try all of the different flavors...but not on the same night, obviously!

On to the most important thing...the food! Belgian cuisine is very similar to the cuisine of the north of France, which I've talked about on my blog before. I'm sure that all of you are most familiar with waffles. In Belgium, though, they are typically a dessert...not a breakfast food. They aren't deserts that you would find in an upscale restaurant or even most restaurants, though; they are more typically found being sold by street venders.

Let's talk about French fries...which are totally not French. They originated in Belgium. ;) That also helps to explain why they are such a common snack food in Belgium and then became that way in France (particularly my region!). They are commonly sold by street vendors, and they are wrapped up in paper cones. You get your choice of delicious dipping sauces; mayo seems to be the most common- the Omniscient Being hates mayo with a passion, though I like it! I guess it is just acquired tastes? Anyway, les frites also come with a fork because eating with your hands is so American. Lilly would kill me for saying that since she is obsessed with "finger foods"!

No frites for me, though, as I was in the mood for a meal, not a snack. I ordered Waterzooi/Waterzoï (Flemish/French spellings, respectively). It is a relatively common dish in the Nord of France, and it happens to be a favorite of mine. It is made with seafood or chicken. The kind that I had at the restaurant was seafood because the Omniscient Being is weird about chicken. That's no fun; I absolutely love chicken! Chicken is awesome! She is seriously missing out, right? Anyway, aside from chicken or seafood, it is made with vegetable broth thickened with eggs and cream. Some veggies are included, too, particularly potatoes. Pieces of a baguette are eaten with this, too, so you can dip the pieces in the leftover broth. Or, you know, if you're Lilly, you could just tip the bowl and slurp the broth. The Omniscient Being is probably an offender, too, but in the comfort of her own home. That's so gross and a little impolite. Regardless, the broth is probably the best part.

Of course, going out to eat is only fun if you eat desserts, too. What is pictured below is mousse au chocolat and what the restaurant calls a "Flemish Sundae", though I'm pretty sure there's nothing Flemish about it. It looks like the typical, good old American sundae to me. The mousse was made from 85% Belgian chocolate, but I'm scared to know what that other 15% was. Belgian has the reputation for its chocolate, and I don't blame anybody for thinking of chocolate when they think of Belgium. Chocolate is probably better than Waterzooi broth; that says a lot. Did you know that the bowl that my mousse was in is edible? That is definitely the best kind of bowl! Although real (100%!!!) Belgian chocolate is better, this was pretty delicious. I think these deserts were more Americanized, but like I said, that can be overlooked when you have a chocolate bowl!

I hope you learned a thing or two that you could use to outsmart your friends. ;) Overall, the meal was delicious, but now, I feel obligated to ask a few questions. I really want to hear your answers. Would you be interested in seeing a Waterzooi recipe/cooking tutorial on this blog? What are your favorite types of restaurants?

A bientôt!


Bolton Girls said...

Cooking tutorial would be fun on the blog, we do a lot of cooking around here because Mama hates to cook and we love to try new things. That would be awesome.

With 13 of us here it is a huge choice for favorite resturants. Most of us girls love Johnny Carino's which is Italian and of course the Olive Garden, those are the top two for most of us girls .. Logan loves Applebeas .. typical guy go for the downhome food.


Inky said...

Yum, what a fun meal! There are several Belgian restaurants in NYC. My favorite isn't a restaurant- it's the pommes frites stand. They serve them in a paper cone with a fork and they offer about 50 different sauce and also poutine! I like to get the peanut satay sauce or the mango chutney. Yum! There is also a really good food cart here in NYC called "Waffles & Dinges" that sells waffles with different toppings. I like mine with spekuloos!



P.S. My favorite restaurant is Oceanview Café in Brighton Beach- it serves homestyle Russian food, which is my favorite!

Violet said...

Hi Sabine!
Cool meal, it's interesting how Belgian and French foods are so alike!
We haven't talked in well, possibly forever it seems.

Reply back soon!

- Violet

Kyles Korner said...

The food looked and sounded great.

I like to try new foods whenever possible. My sister Sarafina loves to fix new recipes and she's a great cook.

I would love to see cooking lessons and/or recipes on your blog.


Your friend