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Showing posts with the label Typically Belgian

The horse shrimp fishers of Oostduinkerke

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The shrimp fishery, both by horse or on foot, is practiced at low tide for about 2 to 3 hours a day. The horse fisher in his typical yellow jacket and high boots sits in a wooden saddle on his horse that draws the heavy garland mesh. The horses drag a wooden box through the water. In the past, mostly tough mules were used, which were mostly known for their stamina. Nowadays, the fishermen use a bunch of draft horses of the Brabant or Ardens breed. These calm and strong animals are excellent for doing the hard work.

The horses fishermen, sitting high on their rugged farm horses when they plow through the waves. Occasionally horse and fisherman get on the dry to pour the contents of the net into the grains attached to either side of the horse.

Since December 4, 2013, the shrimp fishery in Oostduinkerke, at the Belgian coast, is added to the UNESCO representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The Martino sandwich

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In Belgium the most popular sandwich is not ham and cheese, it is a very spicy sandwich that was invented by Albert De Hert, a former football player who owned a restaurant in Antwerp for more than 50 years. 
Albert De Hert also worked in a snack bar called 'Quick', it was located at 'The Coninck Square', near the central station. A square that at that time was full of nightclubs. There he would have launched his famous martino sandwich.
The story goes that another Belgian football player and friend of Albert, Theo Maertens, who called himself Martino, once ordered a spicy sandwich of meatloaf to get over his hangover.

"Put everything what you have in the cooler on it, he asked," So Albert served him a sandwich with chopped onion, slices of pickle, tabasco, pilipili, cayenne pepper, ketchup and worcester sauce.
The recipe struck and became a concept in Antwerp and later the rest of Belgium, the sandwich is still very popular today.

Elvis Presley's Belgian adventure

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Guy Lambert is a talented singer who has a lot of success in a London nightclub. The young heiress Jill Conway falls for Guy's charm and that, to the great despair of her guardian, uncle Gerald Waverly. He sends Jill to a boarding school in Brussels, not knowing that Guy also heads to Belgium for a singing assignment. On the boat the two meet again and this is the beginning of the love story of 'Double trouble', the movie that brought Elvis Presley to Belgium.

In a way that is, because Elvis Presley never traveled to Belgium for real, the movie was completely shot in a hollywood studio. Locations in Antwerp, Bruges and Brussels were built inside that studio. Pre Recorded film scenes with stand ins were later edited in the movie.

Double Trouble, Elvis Movie #24 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1967.

The Dumont district in De Panne

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The Dumont district in the town of De Panne at the Belgian coast is a pearl of architectural heritage that originated in the late 19th - early 20th century under the direction of architect 'Albert Dumont'. His son 'Alexis Dumont' signed the unique construction plan of this neighborhood with rural cottages, which were built with respect for the existing environment, its nature and dune relief.

On the high dunes, spacious villas with sea views were built. Originally, the villas were built in a cottage style, later more modernist villas were added. Some in art-deco style. Just as important as the villas themselves are the gardens, trees and plants.

The Dumont district is in big contrast with the nearby very commercial center of the town of De Panne, were quantity seems to be more important than architecture, nature and style.

Since 1995, the Dumont district has been protected as a cityscape with a number of monuments and stately buildings to dream away by.
You can find t…

The Leopold I monument in De Panne

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When Belgium became an independent country in 1831, it had declared in its constitution that there should be a King. After considering several other candidates, 'Leopold, Joris, Christiaan, Frederik von Saksen-Coburg' was asked if he would be the first king of the new state. Leopold was born in Germany but lived in England, he also had the British nationality. Leopold accepted.

The new King arrived in France on July 17, 1831, by ship. From Calais he was taken to 'De Panne' by coach. This was the place where he first entered and seen Belgium, later he traveled on to Brussels. On July 21 he takes the oath as the first King of the Belgians. At the place where he had its first contact with Belgian soil this monument was later raised.

The design of the monument is by architect 'Victor Martiny'. On October 5, 1958, at the 125th anniversary of the Belgian dynasty, Mayor Gevaert revealed the monument in the presence of King 'Baudouin' and Prime Minister 'G…

Belgium, a country of beers

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There are approximately 180 breweries in the small country that Belgium is, Breweries ranging from international giants to microbreweries. In 2016, UNESCO inscribed the Belgian beer culture on their list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Brewing beer in Belgium dates back to the age of the first crusades in the 12th century. Under the Catholic Church's permission, local Walloon and Flemish abbeys brewed and distributed beer as a fund raising method. The relatively low-alcohol beer of that time was preferred as a sanitary option to the not so wide available drinking water at that time.
On average, a Belgians drinks about 84 litres of beer each year, down from around 200 each year in 1900. Most beers are bought or served in bottles, rather than cans, and almost every style of beer has its own particular, uniquely shaped glass or other drinking-vessel. Using the correct glass is considered to improve its flavor.

Nearly 80 percent of the world's billiard balls are made in Belgium

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Belgium is the world's leading producer and exporter of billiard and snooker balls. The company Saluc, established in 1923, is located in Callenelle, Péruwelz in the Belgian province of Hainaut. 

Around 1960, the company started to specialize in billiard balls. The most widely used material is phenolic resin. SA Saluc also produces other, more industrial balls for all kinds of purposes. Chances are that the ball inside your computer mouse is also made by Saluc.  The company is active in more than 85 countries, it also makes various types of bowling balls. Saluc has its own chemical plant to make the phenolic resin formula, which give Aramith balls their characteristic high-gloss, rock-hard finish.

Speculoos cookies

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Most people round the world might know these cookies as the airline cookie, but they hold a dearer place in the hearts of the Belgians and the Belgian cuisine. Mostly made to celebrate the 'St Nicholas day’ feast, these spiced shortbread cookies can be found in the most beautiful sizes and designs.
They can be eaten alone or be used to flavor up some secret recipes, you will have to ask a Belgian what kinds of secrets they got in store. There is even a Speculoos paste to spread on your bread.

When you order a coffee in a Belgian café you most likely will get the little cookie alongside it, they’re very good with a strong cup of espresso. Here is one of the secrets, dip it in your coffee before eating it... do it fast, just to get it soaked and don't let it fall in your coffee... Enjoy!

A stairway to heaven?

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The Vlooybergtoren in Tielt-Winge a small town in the Belgian province of 'Vlaams Brabant' has this remarkable art building. The building represents a metal staircase going up to the sky. The metal staircase is more than eleven meters high and 20 meters wide, giving you a breathtaking and unique view over the area around you. Its no wonder that the artwork made it to a must visit tourist attraction in no time.

The tower was designed by the engineering firm 'Close To Bone' from the nearby village of Langdorp. To make the construction strong enough, the designer had to calculate each element. The handrail walls serve as the main support beams to make the structure strong enough not to tip over or break, the walls are assisted by two vibration dampers. A concrete foundation provides the counterweight. The construction is completely prefabricated and build on location in half-day. At night the stairs are let up by solar power driven blue lights.
You the find the Vlooyber…

Karakollen

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Typically in Belgium are Karakollen. Karakollen or whelks are sea snails that are cooked in a broth with celery and chilli pepper. In Belgium, they are mostly served at special occasions like fairgrounds and big outdoor sport events. In Brussels you can find them in special carts on some the streets, especially on winter days.

Ideally, there should be enough chilli to make you weep when you drink the broth. It opens up the sinuses and it is perfect to cure a cold or to just to warm you up. A must try when you visit Belgium.

Every Sunday pistolets

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On a Sunday morning in Belgium it is a tradition that most of the families eat pistolets. And other traditions is that the man of the house is the one that for once in the week has to stand in a queue at the local bakery to get them.

A pistolet is a small crusty bread made from flour, yeast, salt, milk or water, and sometimes butter or olive oil. The pistolets are cut open and widely spread with delicatessen, cheese and different kinds of meat from the local butchery, another thing the man of the house has to take care off.
So next time when you are in Belgium on a Sunday and you see men standing on the street in a queue, you will know where they are after.

Jenever, the national spirit of Belgium

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Jenever or genièvre, is the national spirit of Belgium from which gin evolved. While beer may be Belgium's most famous alcoholic beverage, jenever has been the country's traditional and national spirit for over 500 years. The Belgian Jenever is now a Protected Product of Origin, it can only be crafted in Belgium, the Netherlands (were it's also called Dutch Gin) and a few areas in the north of France and Germany. Most of the jenever AOC's (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) certificates are exclusive to Belgians making Belgian jenever, the recipes to do so are one of the best-kept secrets in the liquor industry. One of most popular cities to make jenever is Hasselt. 

For centuries jenever has been bottled in jugs handcrafted from clay. Its iconic shape is recognizable and unique to jenever. Traditionally the Belgians serve jenever in completely full shot glasses that have mostly just been pulled from the freezer. The glass is completely filled to the edge. The first…

Stoemp or mashed potatoes 2.0

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When you think about Belgian food you probably think about chocolate and waffles. You wouldn't think about something so simple and delicious as stoemp. Stoemp meaning something like smashed together is a typical Belgian winter dish. If you think mashed potatoes are good, just wait till you try stoemp. They’re the creamiest potatoes you’ve ever had because sometimes butter or milk is added together with carrots, spinage or leeks.

The dish is served very hot with a big sausage and a meat sauce. Traditionally you are supposed to make a little crator in your stoemp to make sure the sause issent dripping of your plate.

Moules-frites - Mosselen met friet

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Moules-frites or Mosselen met friet, (Clams with fries) is a popular dish in Belgium and the north of France. It is considered one of the national dishes of Belgium.

The dish consists of mussels cooked in salted water with vegetables including celery and onion. Along with a portion of fries. In Belgium the mussels are prepared in the special black enamelled mussel pots and served with Belgian fries. Per person is an average one kilo of mussels is needed. The fries are usually eaten with mayonnaise or mussel sause made of a cocktail of mayonnaise and mustard.

A hamburger isn't just a hamburger in Belgium

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Did you know that Belgium has the least Mcdonald's hamburger restaurants per inhabitant in the world? It's not that the Belgians don't like hamburgers American style, there is another reason why the hamburger giant can't get its dominant position (that it has almost allover the world) in Belgium.
In Belgium Mcdonald's has a big competitor, in a sense, because it's not another big international concern, but a relative small concern that also has its own hamburger restaurants. The restaurants go by the name of "Quick" and you can only find them in Belgium and some parts of France.

What is so special about Quick? Well, people say it's the quality of the hamburger. In fact, the hamburgers look almost exactly like the ones on the pictures of the display ads selling them. All ingredients are fresh and the meat used is high quality beef. I guess Mcdonald's can't beat that and through the years Quick became the haute cuisine of the hamburger rest…

Typically Belgian, the Kissdance

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There are all kinds of dances in the world, going from classic to modern and from folklore to traditional. In the ages these dances were spread all over the world, but there is one dance you won't find anywhere except in belgium, the "Kissdance", or in Flemish the "Kuskesdans"
Where the dance comes from nobody really knows, except that it always starts with the song "La Bamba" from Ritchie Valens. There is no other way the start the dance. Dj's tried other songs, but with no success. It has to be "La Bamba" or there will be no "Kuskesdans".

The dance is quit simple. When people hear the first notes of the song, most of them gather around in a circle and start walking in one direction. Some other people get inside the circle and start looking at the people walking arround. When they see somebody they like, they pick them out of the circle and give them 3 kisses on the cheeks. Why 3? Well that's another story. in Belgium peo…

Till the 70's Belgian kids got to drink beer during their school lunch

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There are almost 800 different kinds of beer in belgium. One kind was very popular till the70's, it was even given to kids at school during their lunch break.

Beer to kids? You must be kidding! Well let's go a bit further into this. The beers we are talking about were so called table beers, a kind of beer that was specially made for people who can't drink alcohol. So it's was a kind of alcohol free beer, a kind, because there was some alcohol in it. between 1 and 4 percent alcohol. The most popular table beer was Piedboeuf, it had 1.1 percent alcohol in it and there was a lot of sugar added to make it as sweet as Coca Cola. A good marketing strategy made that it was well distributed in almost all schools in Belgium. The reason was that it would be very healthy for them, because of the natural ingredients and of course the sugar. It would make them grow fast and strong. It would even be good for pregnant women and for women that were breastfeeding their baby's.

Lat…

25 things you probably didn’t know about Belgium

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01. Belgium has 178 “breweries” which produce more than 800 kinds of beer! 02. Audrey Hepburn was born in the Ixelles, Evere district of Brussels.


03. The place where the most quantity of original Belgian chocolate is sold is the International Airport of Brussels. 04. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is one invention of Lambert Adolphe Quetelet, a belgian mathematician.

05. Belgium has the lowest proportion of Mc Donald’s per inhabitant of the developed world. There were no Burger Kings till 2016. 06. Belgium holds the world’s record for spending the longest period of time without government: 541 days separate Leterme’s resignation (2010) and the formation of Di Rupo’s government (2011). The people in belgium didn't even notice and life went on as usual. 07. Belgium produces more than 220.000 tons of chocolate per year.

08. The oil peinture was invented by the Belgian brothers Van Eyck. 09. The modern asphalt for roads was invented by the Belgian professor Edward J. De Smedt. 10. The tram of the…

The Belgian draft horse

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Also known as the Belgian Draught, Belgian Draft, Brabancon and Belgian Heavy draft horse.  Until the early 1900s there were three similar yet distinct types of Belgian breeds. The "Big Horse of the Dendre", the "Colossal Horse of Mehaigne" and the "Grey Horse of Nivelles". Over time, these horses were bred together and the final result is the Belgian horse of today. The Belgian draft horse is one of the oldest of the draft horse breeds. The Brabant horse is quite possibly connected directly to the Forest horse, one of the four original types of horses.


The ardennais draft horse was first used first as an army horse, Dating all the way back from the Roman empire, they were already mentioned by Julius Caesar. Till the 16th century the horses were used to pull Napoleon's' heavy carioles.  At that time it was also used in agriculture and for the forest works.




The average weight of the mares varies from 850 to 900 kilos, that of the stallions from 90…

The old versus the new

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In the village of "Doel" near the city of Antwerp there is a very old mill. The mill was built in 1612 and is what is being called a "Grondzeiler" mill, meaning it was used with a cotton seal that was bound on each of the wings of the mill to get it up to windspeed.

This story is not about the fact that it's an old mill, but more about the location of it. At this moment the historical wind power producer is next to it's much hated gigantic successor, a nuclear power plant.

Since the seventies there are plans to destroy the village to make way for the expansion of the Antwerp harbour. The ages old village of "Doel" had some remarkable historical events and buildings to go along with it. But what has to go, has to go in the name of progress. Most is the houses in the village are already gone and what is left looks like a ghost town.

There are only two buildings in the village the Port of Antwerp wants to keep, one is the church tower and the other …