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Bread is a staple of the Belgian diet and is eaten at least once or twice a day by most families. It follows that the sandwich has evolved into many strange and wonderful forms over the years, and this list covers the most typical toppings and forms it has taken in Belgium.
Filet Américain, steak tartare or quite simply préparé, is made out of raw ground beef, which is then spiced with piri-piri, Tabasco, mustard, cayenne pepper, gherkins, salt, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Raw meat isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but eaten on a round pistolet or on toast, it is absolutely delicious.
Perhaps the most typical Brussels sandwich on this list, quark and radish on brown bread is a typical meal from Belgium’s capital. Quark, or platte kaas/fromage blanc is a soft, spreadable cheese akin to yogurt, which is perfectly offset by the sharp flavor of the radish.
Another classic Brussels product is the bloempanch (the Brusseleir word for blood sausage), which is made out of intestines and pig’s blood, and contains white pieces of pig’s head. It is spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, giving it a complex flavor that is perfectly accentuated with a dab of mustard and a slice of bread.
Grey shrimp are much loved in Belgium and are typically found in the North Sea. Their name comes from their grey coloring, and they are generally considered as the finest type of shrimp. They are also an extremely popular sandwich topping and are usually mixed with mayonnaise to make a shrimp salad.
Kipkap (or hoofdvlees/kop) is the pressed leftover meat from a pig’s head, tail and ears. It is cooked with gelatin and gherkins, and the finished result is a firm mixture that can be served in slices on a sandwich, usually accompanied by some mustard.
Another Brussels classic, the mitraillette is composed of half a baguette filled with some form of fried meat (this can be anything from a sausage to a burger, steak or frikandel), fries and a sauce (ketchup, mayonnaise, andalouse, garlic sauce or béarnaise tend to be popular). It has also been adapted by kebab vendors in Brussels and can be found in the form of a wrap.
Crab salad is usually made with surimi instead of crab, mixed together with mayonnaise, egg, shallots and cayenne pepper. It has a slightly sweet flavor and is mostly eaten on a sandwich for lunch.
Rolmops is made with herrings caught after the month of June (these herrings are too small to be sold as a whole) and are usually rolled around an olive or a gherkin. It has quite a sour taste and is popular in other Northern European countries too.
A Belgian cookie typically eaten around the arrival of Sinterklaas (the Belgian and Dutch Santa Claus), speculoos was recently turned into a spreadable paste, revolutionizing breakfasts around the country. The taste is sweet and dominated by the subtle mix of spices (including white pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg).