|This article needs some work. You can help by adding some more information to it.|
Belgium - Cooking and Food
Overview of Belgian Cuisine History
Belgium occupies a small territory between France, the Netherlands and the North Sea. However, if we consider the population density, it is the second country in the world. Belgium’s people are divided in two cultures: Flemish in the Northern territory and Walloons in the Southern regions. As the country was, in time, under the domination of Romans, Vikings, French, Spanish, Austrians, Dutch, English, and Germans, it has gathered cultural concepts from each of these nations. The Belgian ground was the stage of many important battles, through history. Germanic cultures meet Latin cultures in Belgium and the cuisine was affected, in consequence. During the Middle Ages, Belgium developed a national cuisine. Though, the strongest influence seems to come from the French cuisine. Belgians like to admit that their dishes are cooked with French refinement and served in German quantities. Most of the population works in industry and only five percent of it is involved in agriculture. This didn’t stop the existence of 165 different types of cheeses. The representative dishes of the Belgian cuisine are: mussels and frites, waffles and Endive. The chocolate is also prepared in special ways and commercialized in all the cities. Beer occupies the first place among the Belgium beverages and is available in more than 300 varieties.
Although the Belgian cuisine distinguishes itself through the national dishes and beverages, there are few cookbooks published on this topic. This happens because people prefer to transmit orally the traditional methods of cooking. There is one excellent Belgain cookbook: Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeck and Maria Robbins. This is an excellent introduction to a variety of dishes anc cuisines, featuring 250 recipes suitable for all seasons with easy to follow directions, personal anecdotes and notes.
Both halves of the country have their own cuisine with their own specialties. As each of them was affected during the centuries by a particular culture, there are dishes that may resemble of the national foods of other countries. However, since the Middle Ages, Belgians have enhanced and created many variations for each. The Belgian cuisine is not only different from that of other countries, it is different from one zone to another within the territory of the country. The inhabitants of Belgium never stop showing their creativity, although it is said that they are gourmands and not gourmets. Each dish is carefully prepared and served in such a manner that produces a fantastic visual effect.
By Geographic Area and Style:
- Flemish Cuisine
- Walloon Cuisine
Finding the ingredients for an Belgian Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.
- Check out the Belgian Food Glossary
Preparation Methods for Belgian Cooking
The Belgian food preparation methods are not entirely unique, nor special. People in Belgium use the same cooking methods as most of the other countries. Only the national dishes, which are not prepared in other countries, may require a special treatment. However, the most often met cooking methods are the well-known boiling, drying, frying, seasoning, roasting, salting and grinding. The Belgians from the Northern part of the country are known for using more spices, vinegar, and mustard in their dishes. This habit prevailed from the medieval times. Also, people don’t constrain the use of butter, cream, beer and wine in many recipes.
Special Equipment for Belgian Cooking
The Belgian cooking equipment does not differentiate from the equipment of the rest of the world. The dishes prepared in Belgium require from tablespoons and teaspoons, knives, forks and bowl for draining the liquids from a food to pans, trays and spice-boxes. Of course, each recipe offers instructions on the tools that should be used. Belgians often use scales for preparing the food with the exact quantities of each ingredient. Most ovens today are equipped with heat measurement devices. This permits to prepare the dishes at a certain temperatures so overcooking doesn’t occur. Most Belgian dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor.
Belgian Food Traditions and Festivals
Belgians never hesitate to expose their national treasures, even if these are represented by their dishes. They organize each year festivals such as the European Seafood Exposition or the Belgian Bakery Event. Some events, like Food and Domestic Equipment Fair are meant to display the latest methods and tools used in the Belgian cuisine.
People in Belgian Food
- Are you into Belgian Cooking and would like to be interviewed?