Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ode to the Genius of Belgians

We had the most amazing Belgian dinner on Saturday night. Here's what I love about Belgian food. I grew up eating Italian, and then discovered good Asian food and ate almost nothing but that whenever I could. So when a certain person started to make me go to French restaurants, I thought they were very bizarre. The French have this odd habit of making a perfectly exquisite sauce and then, what do they do? They put it on a piece of meat or fish, with no starch in sight.

How are you supposed to eat that great sauce without noodles or rice? There is always more than fits on the meat, and it's very undignified to lick the plate at the end. And yes, they make great bread, but it's well known that you can't live by bread alone.

But Belgians: This restaurant, as is typical, offers as side dishes: fries, mashed potatoes, potato croquettes. They also had a 'cauliflower mousse' that is basically indistinguishable from a mashed potato with clouds in it. They are of course famous for their fries, and I can't even remember if they had that Stoemp thing which is mashed potatoes with another vegetable in it.

On top of that, the dish I ordered came with spaetzle. And on top of that, was the cauliflower thing. I had joked about ordering croquettes with a side of fries, but this was better.

And of course there was an amazing sauce, and a piece of short rib that was so tender it could be eaten with a spoon. So don't think we're talking about a stodgy bland mess o' starch here.

And afterwards, they know what to do with chocolate better than anyone on the planet. Why don't they get more credit for these things?

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