Little Known Facts About Belgium April 19, 2008Posted by finallywoken in Around The World.
Tags: Europe, Sightseeing
This article is written by
Rima Fauzi M.A., the blog owner of A Chocoholic’s Piece of Mind.
When people think of Europe, they usually think Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Geneva or Vienna. Most Indonesian visiting Europe will most likely visit those cities and pass those, albeit lovely, but less famous or even somewhat obscure.
I live in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, a gem located between the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Germany. This is one of the less famous European cities people should visit besides the five above.
Besides being the country’s capital, Brussels is also the capital of the European Union, the heart of Europe. Although Belgium is not famous for a lot of things except maybe for its’ waffles, Brussels sprouts, beers and chocolate, it is the home of many great things and people. Among many are the legendary Jacques Brel, Django Reindhardt, Toots Thielemans and my favorite detective, Hercule Poirot.
Belgium is a kingdom with 3 official languages. The North (Flanders) speaks Dutch, the South (Wallonia) speaks French, and a tiny part in the East speaks German (only 0.6% of the total population). People in Brussels, at the center of the country, speak mainly French, Dutch and English. Many Belgians are at least bilingual or trilingual as a consequence.
Brussels is a lively town, with many places to visit and interesting things to see. It is a little known fact that Brussels have some of the best restaurants in Europe. When people think of good food, they immediately think of Paris. Some of the restaurants in Brussels are better than those in Paris. There is a wide selection of cuisines in Brussels, and being the food connoisseur that I am, I have been sampling food from various restaurants of various country cuisines, stories of which I will share with you in future articles. There are many little known facts about Belgium, but today, I will share with you 12 of them:
#1. Although some would argue that praline or chocolate with filling was invented by the French Lassagne (officer of the table to Marechal du Plessis, duke of Choiseul-Praslin), the true praline that we know today was invented by the Belgian Jean Neuhaus in 1912
#2 Fried potato strips we know as French fries is actually not French at all but invented by the Belgian. It is called ‘frites’ and the Belgians are mighty proud of it, as opposed to the French who are annoyed that they are associated to it.
#3 Belgium is the home of hundreds of Belgian beers. Today, over 450 different varieties of beers are available in Belgium, and some sources say that there are even more than 800 sorts. My favorites are Kriek (cherry flavored beer), Leffe Blond (white, feminine beer) and the strong but smooth Duvel. You can learn more about Belgian beers here, here, here and here.
#4 Belgium is heaven to Jazz lovers. There are so many talented jazz musicians from Belgium and there is always small jazz concerts all the time in Belgium/Brussels, especially in summer. (Plus, the saxophone was invented by a Belgian, Adolpe Sax)
#5 Belgium is home to many world famous comic strips like Hergé’s “Tintin”, Morris’ “Lucky Luke”, Peyo’s “The Smurfs”, Jijé’s “Spirou”, Franquin’s “Gaston” and Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq’s “Largo Winch”
#6 Belgium is home to Baron Victor Horta, who many people call “father of European Art-Nouveau architecture”.
#7 There are 3 main sorts of Belgian waffles : Liege waffles (the most common), Brussels waffles (bigger, lighter, rectangular, and eaten with toppings such as strawberries or ice cream), and galettes (thinner, softer, and typically eaten for breakfast, sometimes with jam – nothing to do with French galettes from Little Brittany, which are a kind of pancake)
#8 Belgium is renowned for its bakeries. Local specialities include cramique (bread cooked with egg yolks and raisins), cougnou (a speciality from Wallonia eaten mostly in winter), gozettes (turnovers) and tarts. The most typical tarts are cherry tart, plum tart, apple tart, sugar tart, and especially rice tart (originally from Verviers, near Liege).
#9 The Belgian motorway system is the only man-made structure visible from the moon (at night, due to the lights all along the motorway network).
#10 The smallest town in the world is in Belgium, called Durbuy.
#11 The world-famous Club Med was started in 1950 by former Belgian water polo champion, Gérard Blitz. It is now based in Paris.
#12 Although Paris, New York and Milan are considered as the Fashion Mecca of the world, lovers of fashion design now have to make a detour via Belgian cities such as Brussels, Antwerp or Liège. Belgian has produced many international fashion designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkemberghs, Olivier Strelli and Edouard Vermeulen of the Fashion “Natan” House.