Brussels, Belgium: Moules Et Frites

The Grand Place, Brussels

I understand it now. 

People, some people anyway, talk about moules et frites, mussels and fries, as the pinnacle of simple, perfect, Belgian/French food. To be honest, I do not know many of these people.  But after eating steamy mussels on the streets of Brussels last month, cooked in tomatoes and fennel, I understand why these people, who I imagine to effortlessly sport silk scarves around their necks, would say such things. 

“If I ever opened a restaurant we would serve moules et frites.  Only moules et frites” my new friend and much more experienced eater says to me after we clean our plates on a small table in front of Mer du Nord.  The street corner in front of this walk up restaurant is packed with Belgians, nubby scarves and shrimp scampi on tiny plates.  I nod and say absolutely like I have always believed this to be the perfect meal.    

I feel less fondly about the escargot we slurp out of salty broth.  But I would eat them again with enough butter and garlic.  …but I would eat almost anything with enough butter and garlic.

Last month I went to a library conference in Brussels and I have to say that eating oodles of great food before, after and sometimes during talking about books makes for pretty much the best trip ever.  Before leaving muscat I pulled my trusty hunter green rain coat from the back of the closet (I literally had to brush dust from the lapels) and packed my favorite boots.  Winter clothes also make for pretty much the best trip ever.    

I made new traveling friends in Brussels and met up with a new/old friend who happened to be there for a conference as well.  We tromped through the night from creperie to fry shack, Grand Place to royal palace.  When I left her I hiked my black jeans back through town, churches lit up and bars spilling out into the street.  I got lost a few times, asked bar keeps for directions in passable French and flipped my collar up around my ears to keep out the cold. 

I’ll just say it – I felt cool.  I know, hard to imagine I don’t always feel cool when I’m puttering around the garden at home or soaking beans for the next day’s lunch - but there you have it.

Grand Place
Yes Please.  Oh wait, they cost 9 Euro each?  I'll just look. 
Would that this were on my way to work each day
Cool bistro where I had lunch with friends on our last day
Church by our flat
Tres Romantique!  The streets of Brussels