Tuesday, August 13, 2013


We were stationed in Brussels, Belgium from 1978 to 1982.   30 years ago but there are many memories from that period that stay in my memory warehouse. Naturally the feel good ones, for certainly there were some moments (i.e racial discrimination and bullying) I've long buried and hope I never get to experience again in my lifetime. 

During this rainy weekend, I caught a cooking show on TV Monde 5 (The French Channel) where the contestants were tasked to cook a dish from the tiny nation of Belgium. With a current population of 9 million citizens, the country is divided between the Flemish (the Dutch speaking populace) and the Wallons (the French speaking portion).  Its capital is Brussels and it has 3 official languages namely French, Flemish and German.  

My elementary schooling was in a Catholic institution where I studied, talked and even dreamed in French. But I was excepted from taking Flemish because I was a foreigner.   Belgium is famous for the Mannekin Pis, its waffles, Brussels sprouts and Moules et Frites (Mussels and Fries).  

Moules et Fries is one of my fave dishes.  I remember we would eat at this restaurant called "Chez Leon". It's quite famous for its wide varieties of cooked mussels.  You can order their steamed with white wine (my fave),  au gratin (baked with cheese), with tomato sauce or the classic steamed mussels.  It is normally served with a basket of thick potato fries and slices of bread which you can dip into the sauce.  Delish, I'd tell you.

So one of the contestants decided to cook her version of Moules et Fries. She mixed the shelled seafood with white wine and celery and her presentation was quite elegant.  And lo and behold, she won that category.  

It has been 30 years since we lived in Europe but on the few occasions my sister and I were able to re-visit Brussels and Paris, we always ate at "Chez Leon" for most of our meals.  To the point that if you prick us, our blood would be streaming with white wine mussels. :D

Just last year in HK for our Yuletide holidays, my sister had a surprise for us.  She took us to this restaurant near her office called "Frites" and it serves Belgian fare.  My parents and I were ecstatic as we feasted on mussels and fries while reminiscing about moments that occurred 30 long years ago.


Photo Cache said...

mussels with white wine is really good,i love it.

my brother makes a mean version except that he uses the pinoy snail, omg, so good.

Toni Tiu said...

Mussels and fries! They go together pala. That's why one of the restos serves them as a pair pala. I want to try it tuloy :)

Kayni said...

oh yes, i had mussels too when i was in Brussels. kepi and i love to eat mussels here too.

DaPHne LAura said...

Photo Cache - we don't really buy much mussels here mostly due to the red tide effect, unfortunately!

DaPHne LAura said...

Oh yes Toni mussels and fries are a good tandem combo. Try mo :)

DaPHne LAura said...

That's great Kayni. The best way to appreciate the culture of a country we visit is to eat their local cuisine. :D