Category Archives: World Cuisine

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 23…Estonia…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Estonia.

The Eastern European country is bordered by Latvia and Russia and shares maritime borders with Finland and Sweden…Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had been part of the Russian Empire since the end of the 18th century,..The former Soviet republic became independent in 1991…Estonian local cuisine typically contains pork, potatoes, and garden vegetables although international foods are available the Estonians are rooted in tradition and traditional foods are favoured like jellied meat and marinated eel this to me brings back memories of my childhood as jellied meats(brawn) and vegetables in aspic jelly plus eels a favourite still in the East End of London…

Although many tourists unused to these traditional foods tend to find the textures strange…but pleasant once they overcome their initial reticence…

The black bread known as “lieb” is a staple and a meal wouldn’t be deemed complete if not served with lieb or “kartulid” (potatoes )…

And of course, no meal is complete without cakes and pastries which are also typical in Estonian gastronomy and one of the most sought-after delicacies would be the “kohupiim,” a cottage cheese-like cake. Estonians are also known for their sweet and mouth-watering dairy products…

Estonia’s National dish is Verivorst...Typically a winter meal or Christmas meal, verivorst which literally means “blood sausage” that comprises barley, onions, allspice, marjoram and blood…pigs blood…very similar to what we Brits call black pudding Verivorst is eaten with Mulgikapsad, a type of sauerkraut, and a red berry jam…Here is a link on how to make Verivorst I know my hubby would love this dish…and I could get all the ingredients here as pig’s blood is sold by the bag…its not something I could make or eat…I have a line…sorry Alan x

The Hairy Bikers have done a tour In Estonia going foraging, fishing for sea kale and dancing with grannies who are said to produce the best school dinners in Europe…I was hoping I could find a video of this tour but I couldn’t…as a former communist country, it seems Estonia is doing very well on the world stage…

But I am looking at the cuisine… a cuisine where Scandinavian, German, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian and other influences have played their part. The most typical foods in Estonia have been rye bread, pork, potatoes and dairy products.

It is also good to note that Estonian eating habits have historically been closely linked to the seasons…I like that…from the fish of the freshwater lakes to the vast fields of rye, so many fresh, quality ingredients make their way onto Estonian dinner tables…

Sprats… this tiny fish was a staple when I was growing up and it appears to be a very popular dish here from a spicy sprat starter to many other dishes sprats feature highly in Estonia’s recipes…On a slice of rye bread, a generous amount of cream cheese, mixed with crushed garlic, is spread then a fillet of pickled sprat is placed. Finally, the sandwich is garnished with slices of boiled egg white, green onion, and dill… Called Vürtsikilu Suupiste it is often accompanied by strong liquors, preferably vodka of Estonian origin.

Hearty Pea Soup with ham hock..something my mother used to make a lovely thick with dried peas soup with smoky ham hock…or how about Potato Salad I think every European country has their own version of potato salad…the potato salad here has smoked sausage and apple and the egg is grated…and is very popular as potato salad is wont to be around Europe and the Nordic countries…

Blood Sausage is a dish that is as old as time…variations of which exist in the UK, Europe and Asia…In South Korea, they are called ‘sundae’, in the Philippines – ‘longganisang dugo, and in Finland – ‘mustamakkara’…Estonian blood dumplings can often be found in shops during Christmas fairs, often accompanied by sauerkraut (‘hapukapsas’ in Estonian).

It is often sold sliced, and it is enjoyed as a late afternoon or early evening snack with a drink.

Verikäkkare is prepared by adding rendered lard and fried onion to a bowl of spices, blood, and milk, which can be substituted with water…Next, flour is added until the mixture forms a dough. The dough can be moulded into shapes, and traditionally they are rolled into sausages.

The sausages are then boiled in water until cooked, and then they’re left to cool. Before serving, they are cut into small discs and fried in a pan until they are browned.

The dumplings are served with pickles, sour cream, and cranberry jam. This dish is a true reminder of the resourcefulness of the Estonians and the importance of Estonian food…true nose-to-tail eating is practised still.

This is apparent in dishes like Sült which reminds me of the meat in aspic jelly my grandmother used to make…Beets are a popular vegetable and paired with herrings as they are in many Nordic countries…Roast Pork with Sauerkraut is another traditional dish as is cauliflower cheese and barley porridge…

Traditional food and preparation feature highly in Estonian cuisine and you could be forgiven for thinking that the cuisine hasn’t moved on, however …The Michelin Guide tells a different story;

Estonia is one of those countries that our inspectors have been scrutinising with curiosity for several years. After many months spent crisscrossing the country, from Tallinn to Tartu, from Mäeküla to Kloogaranna, they discovered a teeming culinary scene, full of quality establishments and diverse cuisine. Highlighting talented chefs and professionals who play on both classic Estonian and international repertoires, this first selection of restaurants is a wonderful invitation to discover a fascinating gastronomic destination,” said Gwendal Poullennec, International Director of the MICHELIN Guides.

That discovery surprised and delighted me to think that as their dinner ladies provided the best school dinner in Europe then maybe their chefs were hiding their light under a bushel…Having MICHELIN in Estonia is a great recognition of their restaurant landscape. It shows that the Estonian culinary scene, which is not yet well known in the world, has been enriched by a strong food tradition that takes influence from the best of world cuisine.

That is definitely a cuisine that I would love to explore a little deeper…I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of Estonia…as always I look forward to your comments x

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 21…Egypt where Koshari is the National dish…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…

Today I am looking at the cuisine of  Egypt…

My sister was very lucky to have visited Egypt but me not so… the only way I will visit Egypt is unless I win the lottery and can do a tour of all the countries I would love to visit on my bucket list it will be vicariously…a virtual tour and I invite you all to come with me…Step this way!

Koshari (also spelt Koshary or Kushari) is the national dish of Egypt. It’s served in virtually every Egyptian restaurant, in every Egyptian home, and on every Egyptian street corner…its a dish of many food profiles in one dish. A traditional Egyptian staple, mixing pasta, rice and brown lentils, and topped with a zesty tomato sauce, garlic vinegar and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions…

Wherever we travel around the world street food is where it’s at…where you find the most delicious food…plus an indication of the food of a country.

Since ancient times,” aish baladi has been the cornerstone of Egyptian cuisine. In fact, you can tell just how important it is to Egyptian culture by its name as translated … Baladi means “traditional” or “authentic” while aish means “life”.

Several cultures combine to make Egyptian food what it is today… it’s hearty and healthy…Food is a big part of day-to-day living an Egyptian will tell you “we live to eat” …for a family or friends gathering the table will be laden with at least ten different types of food Egyptians pride themselves on their hospitality…The food is a mix of many cultures on a plate and if you stepped back in time to the Ancient Pharaohs you would see them sitting down and eating Koshari and Molokhia or something very similar it is an ancient food culture…

Legumes, vegetables, and fruit grown in Egypt’s rich Nile Valley and Delta feature prominently in Egyptian cuisine. While fish and seafood are common in Egypt’s coastal regions, a significant amount of traditional Egyptian food is vegetarian which is a bonus if you travel to Egypt…

Commonly used meats in Egyptian cuisine include squab, chicken, duck, and lamb. Lamb and beef are often used for grilling while dishes made with offal are a popular fast food in many Egyptian cities…commonly used spices and herbs used in Egyptian recipes include cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander, cloves, chilli peppers, parsley, bay leaves, and dill…

Molokhia ...in English is “jute leaf, considered a vitamin-rich superfood that’s reputed to be a sleep and digestion aid as well as to improve eyesight…Molokhia looks like mint and tastes something like spinach…it is said it originated in Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs…

Often classed as slimy…Molokhia is also called Jew’s Mallow. Jute, like other mallows such as the marshmallow plant and okra, is mucilaginous, which means that it creates a mucus-like texture when cooked.

Served and eaten with rice, noodles or pitta bread to scoop up the tasty broth Molokhia is cooked with lots of garlic and coriander some like to make it with onions, some add cumin, and others like it leafy without mincing the leaves…as with many dishes there are variations like making it with chicken broth sometimes rabbit broth and in some areas, it is made with tomato sauce and others make it with shrimps.

Other Examples of Egyptian dishes include rice-stuffed vegetables and grape leaves, hummus, falafel, shawarma, kebab and kofta. ful medames, mashed fava beans; lentils and pasta; and bush okra stew…all very much food for which the recipes have been passed down through the ages…

A typical breakfast food would be Falafel traditionally served with eggs, cheese and pitta bread. Traditional falafel is made with chickpeas, but Egyptian ta’meya is made of fava beans.

Or if on the way to school, college or work a bag of freshly cooked falafel can be picked up from most street vendors.

Dessert…yes there is always dessert the National Dessert of Egypt is Om Ali…The dish, which is traced back to the early years of Egypt’s Mamluk era, is named after the wife of the Sultan of Egypt who asked her cooks to come up with the most delicious dessert that they could create.

Typically, pastry (bread, pastry or puff pastry) is divided into pieces and blended with pistachios, coconut flakes, raisins and plenty of sugar. Milk, sometimes with cream, is poured over the mixture, which is then sprinkled with cinnamon. Finally, the mixture is baked in the oven until the surface is golden brown…It may be eaten hot or cold and my mouth is watering already I can just taste all that lovely cinnamon and cream, coconut, and pistachios I am drooling here…

Mint tea is a common beverage as is beer…yes… beer despite conflicting views on alcohol beer is still a popular beverage…Stella beer is the most popular but there are also local brews like “Bouza” made with barley and bread this brew is traditionally home brewed following a 5,000-year-old method and of course, depending on the length of the brewing process the alcohol content varies…it is interesting that many of the methods in cooking and brewing beer can be seen on the many murals and paintings going back centuries…Life in pictures I find that fascinating…

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual tour of Egypt and its often ancient cuisine I do as always look forward to your comments x

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 20…Dominica…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of  Dominica…it is also known as the “Nature Island”

Dominica is an island country of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It lies between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante to the north and Martinique to the south.

Dominica is the most heavily forested of the Lesser Antilles…The main food crops are bananas, citrus fruits, and coconuts…Cocoa, coffee, and vegetables are also produced. Dominica is self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables and fresh fruit and vegetables are dominant in Dominica’s cuisine although with its Creole roots the food has lots of these flavours.

The national dish was Mountain Chicken until the population of frogs (the main ingredient of the dish) rapidly declined around the year 2000 because of a fungus that decimated the frog population. This endangered frog species…a large ditch frog locally known as mountain chicken. If making this recipe then use farm-raised frog legs and if you are in Dominica and offered this dish made with this endangered species then I would not eat it…The recipe can be found here…

Callaloo is now the National dish of Dominica…made with local green leafy vegetable, Callaloo spinach has a very mild flavour that is similar to regular spinach. This spinach is served cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper. A perfect side dish for a tropical breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Popular eats have filtered through these islands such as hibiscus tea, macaroni cheese and bakes like Barbadian elephant ears which is a spicy dough that is deep fried and delicious…a type of doughnut…fried bread dough with cinnamon and sugar…

Like many tropical countries, lunch is considered the main meal of the day…then it’s siesta time(time for a nap)…

In local eateries a menu board may simply say ‘fish lunch’ or ‘chicken lunch’ and typically it will consist of the main ingredient, such as fish or chicken, with a fairly standard selection of rice, red beans and boiled “ground provisions.”

This term refers to any one or a collection of root crops such as varieties of yam, like eddoe…eddoes are popular in Spain, Portugal, Brazil and tropical countries. They can be boiled, roasted, fried or added to homemade bread and puddings. Most times, these vegetables are used as an alternative to yams and sweet potatoes. Their flesh is white, orange, yellow or pink.  The term is occasionally stretched to include breadfruit, plantain, and green bananas (rather confusingly known as figs)…

Dominican rum is based on either fermented sugarcane juice or molasses. Roughly 90% of the world’s rum is made from molasses. The balance is made from either sugarcane juice or a combination of the two.

In the Caribbean, the rum shop is often the centre of community life – the focal point where basics can be bought and men play dominoes, during and after which a shot of rum is had.

Of course, there’s rum and there’s rum. On a small island like Dominica, locally-made brands like Macoucherie (the only one made with local cane) are one of the best examples… Cheap as bottled rum is though, in terms of volume Cask rum predominates the Dominican market.

As an island bursting with lovely fresh produce I love how this is at the heart of Dominica cuisine… MY KIND OF FOOD…I love that one of the oldest and most basic is the one-pot dish or braf. One-pot cooking simply means placing all the ingredients you have, whatever they may be, in one large pot, cooking them up in water and seasoning to create a nutritious broth…dishes with names like goat water, which is a goat meat stew, and chatou water, a soup made with octopus.

Sancocheis another traditional dish made from coconut milk, provisions…I love how all the beautiful greens and varieties of yams are called quite simply “provisions plus codfish make this beautiful dish.

Codfish is also an ingredient of Ackrais a kind of seasoned and fried fritter whose ingredients include breadfruit, tannia and, from September to November, in the days after the moon’s last quarter, titiwi, which is a juvenile goby caught in fine nets at the mouths of rivers.

If you are vegetarian you will have no problem finding many delicious dishes to eat…the choice is varied. Tannia ackra, rice and peas, fried plantain, breadfruit puffs, provisions, vegetable sancoche and macaroni cheese are all staple foods and very common dishes.

You may also come across the term ital. This is a term commonly used by Rastafarians to mean wholesome, natural food. It is always vegetarian.

Thank you for joining me today for the virtual tour of Dominica…as always I look forward to your comments 🙂

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 12…Canada…where Poutine is the National Dish and Tiger Tale Icecream is a childhood favourite…

 

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of  Canada…

Canada occupies most of the northern part of North America. The country is bounded by the North Atlantic Ocean on the east, the North Pacific Ocean on the west, and the Arctic Ocean on the north.

Canadian food culture is a changing landscape that has been heavily influenced by many different traditions and recipes from around the world. Every regional cuisine in Canada has its own unique take on food, whether it’s the adaptability of Canadian Chinese food or the pervasiveness of Quebecois poutine…over the years of reading food magazines and blogs poutine has been mentioned…something I have not tried but it is said to be Canada’s National Dish…for those of you who don’t know what poutine is it’s a Canadian dish made of french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. It first appeared in 1950s rural Québec snack bars and was widely popularized across Canada and beyond in the 1990s.

But what are cheese curds?

Truth? I had to look it up as I wasn’t sure…I was nearly right but not absolutely…Cheese isn’t fresh. In fact, cheese is old/matured…Right? — that’s the point. Cheeses are aged to reach their ideal flavour and texture. But cheese curds should be fresh…they are nothing special just young cheddar cheese that hasn’t been aged…These curds are separated from the whey during the cheesemaking process, and instead of being moulded for a future cheese wheel, they’re sliced up and bagged to be sold right away…That’s it…Cheese Curds!

And if they don’t “Squeak” they ain’t fresh they are cheese, not curds.

Poutine Gravy…ask anyone who is in the know and your answer will be “all poutine sauces are gravy, but not all gravies are poutine sauces.”

And if you normally eat your fries/chips with your fingers…forget it you need a fork or it will get messy…be warned!

Indigenous Cuisine…

Is finally getting the recognition it deserves you will find a wide range of great dishes that focus on locally and ethically sourced ingredients that are used in traditional dishes some with a modern twist…You will find indigenous cuisines all over Canada that reflect the local geography and environment …for example” Obibwa Tacos” use bannock instead of corn tortillas, rubs will be free-range buffalo ribs and all greens will be local and organic.

Nothing at all like a corn taco these are made from Bannock bread or as it’s sometimes known as fried bread then the taco toppings are added it’s like a pizza with extra toppings …

Canadian Chinese cuisine…

Canadian Chinese food restaurants can be found in almost every Canadian city, even small towns in very isolated areas of Canada will often have a Chinese restaurant. During the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway the thousands of Chinese workers who had been hired found it impossible to acquire traditional ingredients for cooking and as a result, Canadian Chinese cuisine was born and spread all across Canada. Larger cities will often have more regional options such as Szechuan or Taiwanese.

Classic examples of Canadian Chinese cuisine include Canadian lemon chicken, Chinese lemon chicken isn’t an authentic Chinese dish, rather it is a Chinese-takeout classic native to Canada, Canadian ginger beef a westernized version of Szechuan Beef, with the addition of carrots, and a little less spice and egg foo young.

Prairie cuisine…

The cuisine of the Canadian prairies is primarily influenced by Ukrainian, German, and Polish food due to an influx of settlers between 1891 and 1914.

Pierogi is a regional speciality that can be found traditionally and freshly prepared in both restaurants and grocery stores with a large variety of fillings from savoury potato and bacon to blueberry and pressed dried cottage cheese.

Saskatoon berries grow prolifically in the Prairies and are used to produce jams, pies, ciders, beers and wines that are a boon for the tourist industry as well as local cuisine…although they look very much like blueberries they are closely related to the apple family…

High in fibre and antioxidants, they grow in many conditions unlike the blueberry and happily grow at sea level and on mountain peaks. Like their apple cousins, they continue to ripen after they have been picked…

Montreal cuisine…

Montreal is home to one of the oldest Jewish populations in Canada, meaning that its fantastic fare is heavily influenced by Jewish cuisine.

Smoked meats, bagels, and smoked salmon are but some of the wonderful foods to choose from, there is a wealth of Jewish-owned bakeries and restaurants to explore in Montreal…This video shows a few of them and they certainly don’t skimp on the portions…

Maritimes cuisine…

Maritimes cuisine is heavily influenced by Irish, English, and Acadian culture and cuisine and it varies according to province. Seafood is a mainstay of Maritime cooking due to its close proximity to the Atlantic and can be found on almost every menu in the area.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island produce the largest amount of potatoes each year in Canada and include them in traditional recipes such as hash browns and potato gratin. The Maritimes is celebrated for its blueberry season and there are several blueberry festivals held each summer these seasonal berries can be found in everything from pies to homemade ice cream.

Desserts…

I couldn’t not mention the desserts which of course many include the glorious Maple Syrup…One of the best names for any dessert,” Pouding Chomeur” translates from French to unemployed man puddling. Also known as poor man’s pudding, it was created during the Great Depression in Quebec by female factory workers…

The simple, rich dessert takes basic cake batter to the next level by topping it with hot caramel, which settles through the cake to the bottom of the pan when baked. The result is an addictive, gooey upside-down cake which is now a French-Canadian tradition. Maple syrup is commonly used as the sweetener in the caramel, making it a perfectly indulgent, easy-to-make treat that I could eat right now…

Named after the city it was invented in (Nanaimo, British Columbia on the west coast of Canada), this no-bake dessert has been hailed as Canada’s most iconic treat. A layer of chocolate ganache sits atop a layer of thick yellow custard that sits atop a chocolate-graham-coconut layer creating a triple-threat dessert bar. The earliest published recipe is said to date back to 1953, but if you ask around town, locals will tell you stories of their grandmothers making them long before then.

Butter Tarts…butter tarts are a Canadian obsession. These small tarts are like a pecan pie (but without the pecans), are usually sweetened with maple syrup and have such a following that trails, tours, festivals and bake-offs are dedicated to the bite-sized treat…

It doesn’t stop there there are many other desserts like Flapper Pie, Tiger Tail Icecream, Beaver Tails all to die for it sounds like heaven…I have put on a few pounds just writing this post…I hope you have enjoyed the virtual tour of Canada’s Cuisine…

Thank you for reading …I look forward as always to your comments…xx

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 3rd -9th April 2022-Monday Musings, A-Z World Cuisine, China , Food Review “Cabbage” and Saturday Snippets where “Bubble” is my prompt.

 

Welcome to my weekly roundup…Wow, all this extra gardening and walking is having an effect I am certainly ready for my bed at night…lol and I have lost a few lbs…I haven’t killed the habaneros yet and it looks like we will get a third crop…the weather is still being very changeable but the cooler breeze is far better when walking…April is in its second week already I think the year will be flying by again…Easter will soon be here which means Hot Cross buns and Simnel Cake and maybe Easter Eggs if we can find them…

Monday Musings…

Mondays shares touched my heart in so many ways and also scared me “The Butterfly Effect”

Monday Musings…4th April 2022…

Carol Cook’s in my Kitchen…Chicken Kyiv/Kiev…

Chicken Kyiv/Kiev may not be a new recipe but it is a well-loved recipe…all that lovely garlic butter oozing onto the plate…so delicious and moreish x

CarolCooks2 in my kitchen…Chicken Kyiv…

A-Z World Cuisine…My virtual tour takes you to China today…

Chinese cuisine is rich and diverse, varying in style and taste from region to region. Its history dates back thousands of years, evolving according to changes in both the environment (such as climate) and local preferences over time. Chinese cuisine also varies depending on class and ethnic background, and it is often influenced by the cuisines of other cultures. All these factors contribute to an unparalleled range of cooking techniques, ingredients, dishes and eating styles that makeup what is understood to be Chinese food today…I would love to visit China but know I probably won’t however there is a large Chinese/Thai community here which means I can taste authentic Chinese food

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 11… China…

Time for this month’s post on Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen…

Not long until Easter now, Good Friday is on April 15th…this month I shared my well tested Hot Cross Bun Recipe plus a lovely mackerel Pate which is very nice on thinly sliced toast…plus some great Kitchen hacks…

Carol Taylor’s Green Kitchen…April 2022 …Kitchen Hacks, How does your Garden Grow, Recipes, Hot Cross Buns, and Mackerel Pate.

Time to get your big boy/girl pants on and forget about the boiled to death cabbage we were made to eat as kids and see and taste this beautiful vegetable for what it really can be…

Around the world, the cabbage is king…a green, white or red cabbage with tightly packed leaves just like a cannonball is at its delicious best when delicious braised, stewed or boiled in a simple soup with chopped-up cabbage, carrots, corn and pork ribs…it’s perfect for shredding into coleslaw or fermented into sauerkraut…used as a wrap with Larb Moo is one of the ways I serve white cabbage and its one of Lily’s favourite and most requested dinners…

There need be no waste and if there is then there is nothing like a delicious “Bubble and Squeak”

CarolCooks2…Friday Food Reviews…Cabbage…Do you eat your #Greens?

Saturday Snippets…”Bubbles”

Normally I am working on Saturday Snippets during the week but nothing came to me last week or a couple did first it was “Wally” but apart from many people who were called “Wally” or “Where’s Wally” it didn’t inspire me and it has to do that…I looked at words with an Easter connection and although I love Easter none of those inspired me…I then looked at my posts and comments and “Bubble” aka the first part of “Bubble and Squeak” spoke to me…will…Spoiler Alert! “Squeak” do the same it’s promising…

So many bubbles we are surrounded by bubbles …bubble gum, aero chocolate, bubble fish…so cute…plus much more…Enjoy!

Saturday Snippets…9th April 2022…Today’s prompt is “Bubble”

Thank you for joining me today and for all your lovely comments this last week and shares…you all rock…I hope you are all having a great weekend and have a productive week ahead…Love Carol xx

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 8…Belgium

 

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Belgium…

Belgium is situated in the west of Europe, bordered to the north by the Netherlands, to the east by Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and to the south and the west by France…it was also one of the first places I visited on a school trip many moons ago…I do however have an abiding memory of the frites with mayonnaise…

Belgium as a country may have been overshadowed by its more popular neighbours but the regional cuisine is enough to entice any serious traveller… Belgium has been rather famous for its junk food but Belgian food is not just a mixture of mouth-watering dishes or junk food; it is an exquisite blend of the food styles of France, Germany, and the Netherlands….and anyone who produces such delicious “chocolate” goes up a notch in my eyes…

What about the Swiss chocolate makers I hear you say…Swiss chocolates are creamier and smoother on the palette while Belgian chocolate is quite dark and bitter. A strong bit of this chocolate will delight anyone. Dark chocolate tastes wonderful and it has so many health benefits too when consumed in moderation…a winner in my eyes…

Neuhaus is one of the best chocolate brands in Belgium and has an interesting history…From pharmacist to Chocolatier, the Neuhaus family has always kept people’s well-being and contentment at heart.

Jean Neuhaus was a Swiss with Italian roots. When he arrived in Switzerland, Jean’s family changed its name from “Casanova” to “Neuhaus”. He wanted to become a doctor to help people and so he went to study medicine in Grenoble. He failed twice, mainly because he could not bear the sight of blood.

He then moved and settled in Brussels in 1857. In the same year, he opened a pharmacy in the prestigious Queen’s Gallery. To delight his customers, Jean Neuhaus covered his medicines with a fine layer of chocolate.

The family opened its original Neuhaus Boutique in Brussels’ exquisite Galerie de la Reine in 1857 and the shop continues to thrive there today.

Not only is Belgium famous for its chocolate but it’s famed for the  ‘Waffle”…it was Maurice Vermersch who introduced a simplified version of the Brussels waffle recipe as his research led him to the conclusion that many Americans could not identify Brussels as the capital of Belgium and thus did not recognise Brussels Waffles thus he came up with the alternative name of Bel-Gem Waffles…

There is also a connection with the legendary Belgium Detective Poirot and many waffles and waffle houses are prefixed with Poirot’s name i.e Poirot’s Belgium Waffles…

What Is The Difference Between a Regular Waffle and a Belgian Waffle? Belgian waffles are thicker and often larger than regular waffles because they are made with a waffle iron that has deeper grids. These deep pockets are perfect for holding delicious pools of syrup!…plus Belgium waffles are generally yeast based…with a lighter crisper texture…

Now let’s get back to the Frites..you will never hear a Belgium calling them fries…There’s a lot of controversy around who invented fried potatoes, but most people will agree that the Belgians perfected them. Once you eat fries in Belgium, they’ll never taste as good anywhere else.

While you can get Belgian fries at virtually any restaurant, they are invariably best from a genuine friterie (French) or frietkot/frituur (Flemish). These fry shops can be anything from a small building to a fry truck and the best ones are hotly contested and voted on annually a prize to be coveted.

Of course, most serve other foods (all of them deep-fried), the emphasis is always on cooking the Frites to crispy, golden perfection.

Some friteries or fries shacks still serve their fries in traditional paper cones, while others have turned to the more convenient but less eco-friendly plastic containers.

Moules-Frites,  or mussels with fries, is a classic Belgian dish you can find at just about any café or brasserie in Brussels. It’s one of the foods to eat in Belgium. The most common way mussels are served in Belgium is steamed in white wine, in big black mussel pots. In addition to wine, moules marinières also contain shallots, parsley, and butter. Other cooking methods include cream, beer, or even mustard sauce…

And who better to give you a step by step guide to the cooking of a perfect Moules and Frites are “The Hairy Bikers”

These sound absolutely delicious…and next time I cook mussels I am going to serve them with Frites and Mayonnaise the Belgium way …Hubby will be pleased as he loves his frites/chips…

But is Belgium all Frites and Waffles...of course not they are famed for the Meatballs, the wonderful slow cooked Flemish stew, Rabbit cooked with prunes which was once a humble peasant dish and now it has been refined into something else by chefs around the country.

There is the humble sausage and mash ..served by parents and grandparents and cooked with black or white sausages or the blood sausage…Often, the mashed potatoes will be mixed with a vegetable, like carrots, to create stoemp, the typical Belgian kind of filling mashed potatoes.

Eels in a green sauce which reminds me of pie, mash and eels which is a popular dish in the East End of London…but of course here in Belgium, they are served with Frites rather than mashed potatoes…

That’s all for today on Belgium Cuisine I look forward to your comments…xx