Good cooking and fine beers are seen by many as part of Belgian culture. One of the many beers with high prestige is that of the Trappist monks. Technically, it is an ale and traditionally each abbey’s beer is served in its own glass (the forms, heights, and widths are different). There are only seven breweries (six of them are Belgian) that are allowed to brew Trappist beer.
Belgium is a nation of Gourmands rather than Gourmets which translates into big cuisine rather than fine cuisine. In reality this means that along with big portions, you get pretty good quality and a kind of unpretentiousness. The word Gourmandise originally meant gluttony, but like in France it has taken over the original meaning. It is often said Belgium serves food with the quantity of Germany and the quality of France.
French fries, which the Belgians consider themselves to have invented, are very popular. They are called frieten in Flemish or frites in French. The best place to enjoy Belgian frites is at a friture (frituur or informally frietkot in Flemish) which is a temporary construction usually strategically placed in busy squares. Other Belgian recipes which were reputedly invented in the country include, Vlaamse stoofkarbonnaden aka carbonnades flamandes (a beef stew with beer, mustard and laurel), speculaas (a sort of cookie), Belgian waffles, waterzooi (a broth made with chicken or fish, cream and vegetables), endive with bechamel sauce, Brussels sprouts, Belgian pralines (Belgium has some of the most renown chocolate houses), and Paling In ‘t Groen (river eels in a sauce of green herbs). Belgian cookies are noted for their aroma and unique texture.
- Moules Frites/Mosselen-Friet or mussels and chips.
- Lapin à la Gueuze or Konijn in Gueuze. Rabbit in Gueuze, which is a spontaneously fermented, sour beer from the area around Brussels.
- Stoemp, or potato mashed with other vegetables, often served with sausage.
- Salade Liégeoise, (Luikse sla) a salad with green beans, pieces of bacon, onions and vinegar, associated with Liége.
- Vlaamse stoofkarbonaden (Carbonnades Flamandes) or Flemish beef stew, similar to the French Beef Bourguignon but made with beer instead of red wine.
- Waterzooi, a mild casserole of chicken (or occasionally fish) in cream, associated with Ghent.
- Paling In ‘t Groen (Anguilles au vert). Eels in a green sauce of mixed herbs.
- Chicon Gratin/Gegratineerd witloof, Belgian endives baked in melted cheese.
- Slices of rustic bread (tartines/boterhammen) and an uncovered spread, often pâté or soft cheese, served on a board and eaten with knife and fork. A typical variety is boterhammen met platte kaas en radijsjes, quark with sliced radishes on such bread.
- The Ardennes is notable for Charcuterie, or cold meat products, particularly paté, which may be made of game such as wild boar.
- Waffles, sometimes eaten as a street snack.
- Chocolate, particularly pralines (filled chocolates).
Although a comparatively small country, there are a large number of beers available in a range of different styles. Almost every different beer has its own unique drinking vessel, usually a glass of some description. Several home and restaurant dishes use typical Belgian beers.