Wed | Dec 7, 2022

Belgian fare is here

Published:Thursday | November 24, 2022 | 12:09 AMKeisha Hill /Senior Gleaner Writer
Belgian chocolate crumble with nord papaya, strawberry, speculoos ‘chef de biscuit’.
Belgian chocolate crumble with nord papaya, strawberry, speculoos ‘chef de biscuit’.
Beef with mushrooms with potatoes and greens monde des mille couleurs were served at the Belgian Ambassador’s luncheon.
Beef with mushrooms with potatoes and greens monde des mille couleurs were served at the Belgian Ambassador’s luncheon.
The grey snapper was a delicious option at the luncheon.
The grey snapper was a delicious option at the luncheon.
Salad with avocado and tomato coulis.
Salad with avocado and tomato coulis.
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What’s the first dish that comes to mind when you think of Belgian food?

For many, it’s Belgian waffles. For seafood lovers, it will probably be moules-frites (arguably, Belgium has the best fries). And if your favourite time is happy hour, then a Belgian beer might come to mind.

These are all perfectly acceptable answers, but there is so much more to Belgian cuisine than the dishes and drinks that have become popular in the global mainstream.

Belgium as a country may have been overshadowed by its more popular neighbours but the regional cuisine is enough to entice any serious traveller to this exquisite country. Bordering France, Germany, and the Netherlands, Belgian cuisine is an exquisite blend of culinary fare that gives anyone, especially diehard foodies, reason enough to plan a trip.

The spellbinding country of Western Europe, Belgium is a paradisiacal location for gastronomes around the world. With immensely gratifying, scrumptious dishes prepared to develop an insatiable hunger for Belgian food.

The Embassy of Belgium in Kingston recently welcomed Belgian Chefs Bart Denys and Dries Cloet from the Hotelschool Ter Duinen in Koksijde! His Excellency Hugo Verbist, Ambassador of Belgium to Jamaica, showcased the skills and creativity of the two Belgian chefs in an intimate setting at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston.

The guests indulged their taste buds with ultimate culinary treats and they delved into the delectable and diverse world of Belgian cuisine, prepared by the two visiting Belgian chefs, and the hospitality team at the Spanish Court Hotel, in Kingston.

According to Chef Denys, the mouth-watering dishes were prepared with perfectly married quality ingredients with rich and intense flavour, incorporating Jamaican and Belgian cuisine.

“The menu was packed with rich sauces, succulent seafood, and velvety textures. We are internationally known for our mouth-watering chocolate and rich beers, but there is so much more to our beloved cuisine than first meets the eye. We create an incredible array of influences in Belgian food, that offers both luxurious, delicate tastes and wholesome, hearty dishes,” Chef Denys said.

Chef Denys indicated that they are maybe small as a country but when it comes to gastronomy, the country certainly knows how to pack a punch.

“We are not just talking about the nation’s world-famous chocolate, waffles, and frites. On the contrary, if you venture beyond these iconic treats, you will soon discover a diverse culinary world that encapsulates the flavours and cooking techniques of neighbouring France, Germany, and the Netherlands,” he said.

Fries or frites are essentially the unofficial national dish of Belgium. Belgium’s secret to the perfect fries is a two-step process that involves first finding the right potatoes, then double-frying these freshly-cut potatoes.

“To get the perfect balance of outer crunchiness and inner softness, the soft potatoes are fried first at a lower temperature to cook their inside to a soft consistency; and second, briefly at a higher temperature to make the outside crispy,” Chef Denys said.

Locals commonly dip their fries in mayonnaise rather than ketchup. These are a must-try and can be easily found at any restaurant, café, bar, or street food truck (friterie) in Belgium.

But remember not to call them ‘French Fries’, because there is a lot of controversy between Belgians and French as to who invented fries!

Nonetheless, Belgian cuisine consists of, hearty dishes, with an abundance of both sweet and savoury flavours combined to make truly memorable dishes. Succulent, tender seafood dishes bring a breathtaking taste of the North Sea to restaurant tables, while fries and other potato dishes let you sink into a state of comfort and satisfaction. but

Belgium is a beautiful country, with some truly beautiful food. Do keep in mind flavour is more paramount than aesthetic. And whether your palate craves sweet, savoury, or a fusion of both, there is so much in Belgian cuisine for you to get excited about.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com