Belgian chocolate is chocolate produced in Belgium. Chocolate production has been a major industry since the 19th century. Today it forms an important part of the nation’s economy and culture. The industry expanded massively and, together with Swiss chocolate, it gained enormous international reputation.
Chocolate became extremely popular in the upper- and middle-class circles in the 18th century. For the working class it became affordable from the 19th century onwards. In the 1960s Belgium exported more chocolate than it imported, and since then, exports have been growing exponentially.
There are a lot of different chocolate types in Belgium. Pralines are usually soft-centred confections with a chocolate casing. Truffles are mostly in the form of a flaky or smooth chocolate ball, or traditionally in a truffle shape. There are also a lot of figures created out of chocolate, like luxury eggs and Valentine’s hearts.
“Pommes frites” are the national snack and a substantial part of several national dishes.
Fries are very popular in Belgium. In 1781, a document was found that said potatoes had been deep-fried in the Meuse valley (at that time this was in the Netherlands but today it’s Belgian territory) in 1680. Back then, when the poor people couldn’t fish (because it was too cold and the rivers and lakes were frozen), people tried to fry their main side dish, potatoes. That’s how the French fries were born.
Belgium and France have an ongoing dispute about where fries where invented, with both countries claiming their ownership. However, the Belgians served them, and since French was the language of the Belgian Army, the name „French” was associated with the food.
In Belgium, they serve French fries with a large variety of Belgian sauces and they are eaten as a main dish or with other snacks.
In the late 14th century, the first known waffle recipe was found in an anonymous manuscript, “Le Ménagier de Paris” (Manager, written by a husband as a set of instructions to his young wife. Basically a book)
Additionally, Francois I, king from 1494–1547, of whom it was said “les aimait beacoup” (loved them a lot), had a set of waffle irons cast in pure silver.
His successor, Charles IX (King of France 1560 – 1574) enacted the first waffle legislation in 1560, in response to a series of quarrels and fights that had broken out between the oublieurs.
The pastry was given to children on St. Nicholas Day, which was something very special because of the expensive spices contained in the speculoos.
Oliebollen are a variety of dumpling made by using an ice cream scoop or two spoons to scoop a certain amount of dough and dropping the dough into a deep fryer filled with hot oil. Oliebollen are traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and at funfairs. In Flanders the „oliebol“ is also called „smoutebol“ because it is often cooked in animal fat rather than vegetable oil.
At the beginning of the 20th century, comics didn’t appear in album form, but were published as completed gag strips in newspapers as well as in weekly and monthly magazines. Another root of the French-language comic was the large number of children’s and youth magazines of the Catholic Church, in which the popular drawn picture narratives also appeared.
Franco-Belgian comics have been translated into many languages and are partially successful across Europe, especially in central and northern Europe, and also worldwide. The high profile of Franco-Belgian comics is based on a rather small number of successful and popular series, of which the following are particularly well known
- Tintin from Hergé
- Asterix by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
- Lucky Luke by Morris and Goscinny
- The Peyo Smurfs (Les Schtroumpfs)
- The Marsupilami by Franquin, Batem, Greg and others
Belgium is also famous for its large variety of different kinds of beer. The area between Ireland, the Czech Republic and of course Belgium is also called the “Beer Belt”. It is the different kinds of beer that made Belgian beer so famous.
Examples for brands of beer that are famous in Belgium are:
The main point why Belgian beer is so famous is because of their brewers. It seems like they really like what they do.
There are lots of beer festivals in Belgium for example:
- The BAB-beer festival
- The Beer Passion weekend
- The Belgian beer weekends
- The Weekend of Special Beer in Sohier
Belgian Beer weekend:
One of the most famous festivals is “The Belgian beer weekend”. This festival always takes place on the Grand Place in Brussels. There are over 60,000 visitors and they can try beer from small and also from bigger brewers.