What pops into your mind when you think of the Belgian food…Fine chocolate, tantalising beer, decadent waffles? Step inside a Belgian supermarket and you will not be disappointed. With influences from Germany, France and the Netherlands, Belgium produces over 1100 varieties of beer, is famed for its 2000 chocolatiers and invention of the Praline and waffles…don’t get us started on the waffles. You haven’t eaten a waffle until you’ve tried fresh Leige Waffles, a mouthwatering gooey variation.
This post is dedicated to food available in a typical Belgian supermarket.
Spiced Bread known as pain d’épices is something in between a quick bread and a cake, traditionally sweetened with honey.
It is generally flavoured with cinnamon or nutmeg, cloves and aniseed and is found in great varieties on the supermarket shelves.
If you stroll over to the fresh pastry isle you are likely to find Speculoos, a sweet crunchy cookie resembling thin short bread.
They are easily recognised for their stamping prior to baking of intricate design which could be a figure of St Nicholas, a ship or a pretty design.
The ones we saw had what looked like a strawberry shape stamped on. They are again spiced with a combination of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Dry Cured meats including the dried Ardennes sausage and jambon d’Ardenne are found in great proportions throughout Belgium.
Slithers of the delicatly sliced hams are simply served alone as an appetiser or along side rustic breads, pate and soft cheese. The Ardennes region is particularly known for its patés.
Despite the name, it is often disputed that French fries actually originated in Belgium.
Belgian or not, fries and other forms of fried potato have a big presence here in the supermarkets.
In fact, these two frozen isle are solely dedicated to the humble vegetable. Fries, chips in many cuts, pomme noisette,
croquets, and criss-cross are all easily found.
The chocolate section extends over 3 isles with areas for different varieties. We picked up a simple bar of milk chocolate which we ate
with a nice strong coffee back at the van. It was delicious, we highly recommend sampling the simple stuff. Just check on the back for the ‘Fabrique de Belgique’ sign to make sure you are getting the real deal.
Waffles waffles waffles, you have to try the waffles. Fresh waffles like the ones we picked up are not easily found in the UK. They are known as Leige Waffles and have a dense and chewy gooey consistency. they are often served toasted and topped with ample
amounts of good quality chocolate sauce, cream, bananas or other fruit. We enjoyed ours toasted with a good helping of creamy Belgian
butter melted over the top. There are other varieties of waffles here too resembling the ones we have at home but when in Rome…
It might seem a bit 70’s to Brits but mushroom volauvents are a still a staple in Belgian cuisine, lucky for me because they are one of my favourite things to eat and cook. A proper mushroom volauvent is a good size, just over tennis balls size, the pastry has risen to unfathomable heights and the filling must be thick and extra creamy and flavoured strongly with diced mushrooms. We saw this interesting take on the volauvent in the form of a chilled ready meal.
Belgium is well known for its beer all over the world and has a long history of brewing great quality beers in various styles. Back in the UK, Leffe is comm,on but here in Belgium they have 10-20 different varieties. Fruity Leffe, Strong Leffe, Dark Leffe etc etc. There are also a number of other beers worth trying and any beer fans will be spoilt for choice in this country.
So there you have it, a quick look at what a typical Belgian supermarket is all about. If we have missed anything let us know in the comments. We will have to try it out next time we are in beautiful Belgium!