Belgium really was the place where french fries were invented!
In about 1600, in the Namur region, it was the custom of country people to fry fish caught in the River Meuse. When winter came and the river froze over, this was replaced by potatoes cut into slim batons. French fries had been invented…
Belgium is now among the countries with the highest yield per hectare when it comes to potato growing (Western Europe cluster) and it supplies finished products of a rare quality. Yet Belgium has much else to recommend it.
Small country, great food
Our towns and rural areas are dotted with other gastronomic traditions. These start with the Belgian Blue, a local breed of cattle that produces tasty meat. Or the famous Trappist beers still brewed in monastery outbuildings… Then, for those with sweeter palates, there are waffles and our famous Belgian chocolate with its authentic, inimitable taste renowned the world over. It is no surprise that Belgians are known as “bon viveurs”?
A land of culture and cultivation
Belgium is also highly cultivated… and it is not only potatoes that are cultivated. We can cite the cities of Antwerp, Ghent, Tournai and Liège… with architecture that is traditional or imaginative like the Atomium, the astonishing Brussels structure dating from the Brussels Expo of 1958, which represents the nine atoms of the iron crystal. Our culture also encompasses numerous traditional festivals when people throng the streets for the carnivals of Alost, Binche and Malmédy… And we haven’t even mentioned yet the historic UNESCO world heritage sites (Bruges, Mons, Ath etc.).
A royal land populated by artists and sports stars
Stromae, Adamo, Arno, Brel… so many singers with an international profile. But that is not all, our film industry has won Palmes d’or at the Cannes Festival in France with the Dardenne brothers. Belgian surrealism is known worldwide, especially through Magritte and his famous painting “This is not a pipe”… As for sports stars , there is Eddy Merckx, the cyclist who won the Tour de France five times, the Red Devils, our football team, not to mention our tennis champions, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin; all our sports stars work energetically to fuel victory. And they never refuse a good cone of french fries from Lutosa. Then there is our King, Philippe I.
Mussels & french fries
and french fries with mayonnaise
Belgium also features the sandy beaches of the Flemish coast with its seaside resorts, Oostende, Le Coq, Knokke etc. So, it should be no surprise that the true national dish of Belgium is the fantastic mussels & french fries. The perfect blend of land and sea… Then, in every town and city, there are stalls dispensing french fries in the traditional cardboard cone, served with a tasty sauce (mayonnaise, ketchup, tartare, andalouse etc.), meeting places par excellence where men, women and children of every age and status gather.
The heart of Europe
Belgium forms part of that area that also ever more resembles a “french fries curve” extending from London to Valencia and encompassing great maritime ports such as Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Dunkirk… This quite geographically limited area contains 60% of European purchasing power… Belgium is at its heart with the European institutions located in its capital. That is why Belgium is also the centre for European logistics with an impressive road and maritime network opening onto Europe and the world.