Traditional cuisine in Belgium relies heavily in local food. If you care to browse through a local recipe book, you will notice plenty of fish recipes in West Flanders, pork and salmon in Ardennes cookbooks, or eels in Antwerp. Modern cooking is of a finer level and much more stylish, very close to French cuisine, but based in high quality local ingredients.
Typical Belgian food
Chicory or Belgian endive –witloof in Flemish
It is probably the most important local crop. Chicory-growing was developed at Brussels’ Botanical Gardens around 1930 and it has spread all over the world.
Chicory was discovered as a vegetable when some chicory seeds, stored to be sold later to the coffee trade, sprouted in the winter. Since fresh garden produce was hard to come by at that time of the year, the farmer’s wives cut the “tulip” shaped vegetables of their roots and used them to feed their families.
Cold meats and pates
The most famous are the Ardennes ham and Ardennes pate, but you will find plenty of variety. Most butchers –charcuterie- and deli shops –traiteurs- make their own products. All of them are delicious.
You will find an interesting variety of local cheeses at the market, from small goat’s cheese balls to large yellow wheels, worth exploring. Imagine yourself sitting outdoors, under the late spring sun, spreading some cheese on fresh whole meal bread, drinking some of the excellent local beer, a unique experience –to be truly local, accompany with spring onions and radishes, but we did not take much to this.