Belgian cuisine is widely varied with significant regional variations while also reflecting the cuisines of neighbouring France, Germany and the Netherlands. It is sometimes said that Belgian food is served in the quantity of German cuisine but with the quality of French food. Outside the country, Belgium is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer.
Though Belgium has many distinctive national dishes, many internationally popular foods like hamburgers and spaghetti bolognese are also popular in Belgium, and most of what Belgians eat is also eaten in neighbouring countries. ‘Belgian cuisine’ therefore usually refers to dishes of Belgian origin, or those considered typically Belgian.
Belgian cuisine traditionally prizes regional and seasonal ingredients. Ingredients typical in Belgian dishes include potatoes, leeks, grey shrimp, white asparagus, Belgian endives and local beer, in addition to common European staples including meat, cheese and butter. Belgians typically eat three meals a day, with a light breakfast, medium lunch, a snack and large dinner.
Belgium has a plethora of dishes and products that are local to a specific area. Examples include waterzooi from Ghent, the couque biscuit from the town of Dinant, and tarte au riz from Verviers. While their local origins are acknowledged, most such dishes are enjoyed throughout Belgium.
Belgian National Dishes
Moules-frites or moules et frites is a popular main dish of mussels and fries originating in Belgium. It is also popular in Jersey and France. The title of the dish is French, moules meaning mussels and frites fries, with the Dutch name for the dish meaning the same. It is considered the national dish of Belgium.
In North America, Belgian waffles are a variety of waffle with a lighter batter, larger squares, and deeper pockets than ordinary American waffles. Belgian waffles were originally leavened with yeast, but baking powder is now often used. They are often eaten as a breakfast food; toppings vary from whipped cream, confectioners sugar, soft fruit, and chocolate spread, to syrup and butter or margarine. They may also be served with vanilla ice cream and fresh fruit (such as strawberries) as a dessert.
In Belgium itself, there are several kinds of waffle, including the Brussels waffle and the Liège waffle.
French fries, or simply fries (North American English), chips (British and Commonwealth English), finger chips (Indian English), or french-fried potatoes, are batonnet or allumette-cut deep-fried potatoes.
French fries are served hot, either soft or crispy, and are generally eaten as part of lunch or dinner or by themselves as a snack, and they commonly appear on the menus of diners, fast food restaurants, pubs, and bars. They are usually salted and, depending on the country, may be served with ketchup, vinegar, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, or other local specialties. Fries can be topped more heavily, as in the dishes of poutine or chili cheese fries. Chips can be made from kumara or other sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. A baked variant, oven chips, uses less oil or no oil. One very common fast food dish is fish and chips.