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10 Lesser-Known Specialties To Enjoy In Belguim

Picture of Kathryn Bulanowski
Updated: 24 November 2016
Belgium is best known for its fries, waffles, beer, and chocolate, but did you know that it has many more delicious options to choose from? Ask any resident, and you’ll find out about a number of other traditional indulgences. Check out these 10 Belgian specialties that you won’t want to miss.

Koninginnehapje

This dish is a staple of any traditional Belgian restaurant and is commonly served with a side salad and the option of fries or croquettes. Chicken is incorporated into a creamy white sauce atop a flaky pastry. A warm delight for anyone who prefers something creamy and delicious for dinner. The tiny meatballs and mushrooms included in the sauce add extra flavor and will definitely make you glad you tried it.

Vol-au-vent
Vol-au-vent | © Edsel Little/Flickr

Stoofvlees

With Belgian beer as a main component of this stew’s sweet-and-sour sauce, you already know that it’s a delectable dish. Stoofvlees is a traditional meal consisting of cubed beef served in a savory dark sauce, and you will find it in a number of restaurants. It is often complemented by some variation of potatoes and greens, and you can also find it as fry sauce in many friteries. A definite must on a chilly evening.

Carbonade Flamande
Carbonade Flamande

Gegratineerde Witloof/Chicons au Gratin

This entrée contains a vegetable known by multiple names, endives, chicory, or witloof. Although the vegetable can be served in a multitude of ways, because it is quite popular, one particular style is a staple in restaurants and households alike. When it’s served as a casserole, loaded with creamy cheese and ham and baked to perfection, you’ll forget you’re eating a vegetable and savor every bite.

Chicons au gratin
Chicons au gratin | © [puamelia]/Flickr

Speculoos

A must-have, especially during the Christmas season, this spice cookie is reminiscent of gingerbread without the overwhelming ginger flavor. Whether fresh and soft in a bakery or from a supermarket, with a chocolate coating, you’ll be happy you tried it in its variety of styles. And not only can you enjoy this cookie in its true form, but make sure to try it as a paste. The options are endless.

Speculoos cookies
Speculoos cookies

Waterzooi

A hearty Flemish stew traditionally prepared with fish, waterzooi comprises a rich stock thickened with egg yolks and cream and a generous serving of vegetables and herbs. Nowadays, this dish is often made with chicken instead of fish, then referred to as kippenwaterzooi, but both variations are commonly found at restaurants across Belgium. For the perfect waterzooi, head to Ghent, known as the home of this delectable specialty.

Waterzooi
Waterzooi | © Smabs Sputzer/Flickr

Cuberdons

Originating in Ghent, you can find cuberdons in many street carts in the city’s center. These chewy purple sweets are also nicknamed ‘Neuzekes’ due to their nose-like shape. Biting into a cuberdon comes with a bit of a surprise, as they contain a gooey liquid, oozing with raspberry flavor. A must-try for any candy lover, cuberdons also come in a variety of other tastes. But don’t forget to try the original. These confections are also so popular that the Ghent train station has even changed its signs to read ‘Neuzekesland.’

Tomaat Met Grijze Garnalen/Tomate Crevette

Literally translating to ‘tomato with gray shrimp,’ this appetizer is exactly that. The center of an uncooked tomato is hollowed out to create a bowl shape, and the tiny shrimp are placed inside for a delightful presentation. The shrimp are lightly seasoned with a bit of lemon and herbs, making it a tasty starter for any other dish on this list.

Stoemp

Typically made with mashed potatoes, in addition to a number of other vegetables and herbs, stoemp is packed with flavor. Stoemp can be plated as a hearty side dish for a number of meats and is a lovely substitute for ordinary mashed potatoes. You’ll be happy you tried it.

Mattentaart/Tarte Aux Matons

This round pastry is baked with a moist center created from curdled milk and a light touch of almond. With a cheesecake-like center, this treat is perfectly complemented by its crunchy outside shell and is found in bakeries all throughout the country. If you do, however, wish to try it from its birthplace, head to Geraardsbergen, located in East Flanders.

Mattentaart
Mattentaart

Jenever

Although beer is the most famous beverage in the country Belgium is also known for its Jenever, or ‘genever.’ An alcohol made in both Belgium and the Netherlands, Jenever is said to have fathered gin and is not extremely strong tasting when it’s drunk straight. Because it won’t leave you with an alcohol flavor in your mouth, you can experience its taste on its own. Ranging in flavors from chocolate to cactus, there is no limit to what you can try. Creamy or fruity, everyone can find an interesting taste to suit his or her taste buds.