Postcards to Savor
Welcome to what I hope will be a mouth-watering article. This is the third, and I think last, in a series of photo hubs that I conceived to visually narrate my European exploits.
By no means I'm going to be comprehensive with the delicacies that we sampled and ogled and ohhhed and ahhhed about, but I'm confident that I captured some very representative morsels from the cities and countries I visited.
Likely, you'll find the Paris section terribly lacking if you're looking for a real food, food article. But this isn't a real food article. This is what we had while strolling on the street, or for dinner at night, or what we stopped to take photos of because it looked as delicious as it looks, well, on the photos.
At the same time, I guarantee that I'm representing the cities and countries perfectly with the samples I'm displaying, as confident as I would be if I were displaying Iberian ham, potato omelet, paella and Sangria for Spain. The Spaniard in me mentally screams at the reduction of the Spanish offerings to these silly four things, but honestly, they capture what people see the most when they visit.
And that's what I tried to do, capture the most frequent food occurrences in the places I visited. I think I just omitted the beer in Germany, but that's because I featured it in Belgium, a country that adores beer like a goddess. All right, you're thinking some of us also adore beer like a goddess and aren't featured in this hub. Right, suck it up, the beer honors go to Belgium.
Well, here we go, I hope you are ready to salivate!
Chocolate a Gogo in Belgium
I was torn between posting the many chocolate display photos I have or showing the temples of chocolate themselves. Finally the temples won, as you can see.
I didn't count, but I'd say every second store in Brussels and Bruges was a chocolaterie. I swear I suffered, for a couple of days I didn't even want to use the sidewalk because the windows from these shops gave me cravings I didn't know I had in me. Oh boy. It's not only how tasty the bits look, it's how they display them to maximum effect, and there are so many that one gets fat just from looking. Let me tell you, it was very, very tough.
Beer, another smashing hit in Belgium
Beer in Belgium is as much a religion as chocolate. There are beer establishments that pride themselves in serving over 1,000 varieties of beer, all in their own glass type with the brand on it. There aren't as many stores specialized in beer as chocolateries, but there are plenty and they are so pretty.
The famous Delirium Tremens Café made it to the Guinness Book of Records in 2004 for serving over 2,000 beers in a menu that's as big as the yellow pages.
Another place to visit for beers is A La Mort Subite, they also brew their own brand. The name means literally "sudden death", and it comes from a dice game called "421" originating in the early XX century and where the last round was played at sudden death (they call it tie break at tennis, not nearly as romantic!).
Mussels, a typical dish in Belgium
Before preparing this trip and looking up Brussels and Bruges, I never knew, hadn't the slightest really, that mussels were a typical dish in Belgium. What the heck, I kept thinking. Mussels? In Belgium? Turns out they are also typical in Netherlands, always learning something new.
Well, I had my mussels a la beer, and then au vin blanc, I'm back, and I still don't have a clue regarding the tradition. I read here and there that it could be the French influence, but nothing clear and definite. I mentioned before that I'm a poor researcher, but my assistant (ahem) here is a great one, and she can't find anything definite either to explain why mussels are typical in Belgium, so if any of you can report back, we'll be most grateful.
I've got to say, and this is a Spanish connoisseur speaking, that they know their mussels in Belgium.
Waffles and more. Somebody please save me from temptation
Close your mouth and stop drooling. I took pity on you here. I assure you, these photos are intended to make your mouth water while keeping your heart rate at a manageable level. What isn't at a very manageable level are the pounds I put on during this trip, many of which can be blamed on the waffles I consumed. Chocolate and whipped cream. Double chocolate. Chocolate, and strawberries and banana on top. Banana dipped in chocolate. Oh. Oh. OH!
Paris and Baguettes and Paninis and...
This section goes without explaining, except for the Croqs and the question that has been plaguing me since I first laid my eyes on this "sandwich": Why had I never before noticed the Croqs in Paris? Blindness to melted cheese color, maybe? Fear of putting weight on just by looking at them? Idiocy?
Whatever the reason --blindness, fear of calories or idiocy, it abandoned me on this trip and I had an overdose of Croqs to make up for my past negligence.
Of course, Paris isn't short on sweets either...
I dare you to click on Fauchon and browse around. If you aren't tempted, check your pulse.
Cheese & Fondue
For cheese and fondue we went to very normal and earthy restaurants, full of locals, not a tourist in sight (except us, who were in sight of all locals, whoops), which made us think we were in the right places for genuine samplings. Prices at both establishments were unbelievably reasonable for Paris standards, dining with wine didn't rip us off at all. For fondue, we went to Heureux Comme Alexandre and for cheese we picked Pan Vin Fromage.
Currywurst, that's THE thing in Berlin
I don't know what I was thinking, but I completely forgot to snap a shot at this wonderful snack, and we had a few of them, too, so I must have been suffering from endorphin overdose. Or something.
The currywurst is served with or without chips, the sausage is tender on the inside and very crispy on the outside, sprinkled with a generous dose of ketchup mixed with curry. Though the currywurst can be found in restaurants, this is your typical street food stand delicacy. You can order it with bread, as a sandwich, but don't be silly and order the regular one on a paper plate –why spoil a perfectly savory sausage with bread?
And this is the end of the food tour. Now, if you'll excuse me while I go find something to wear that still fits me.