This blog post was updated on October 26, 2018.
As if Belgium doesn’t have enough on its plate with its acclaimed chocolate and beer, the country tends to find itself in the best of company with waffles as well. The Belgian waffle can be found at cafes from Brussels to Boston. However, eating waffles in Belgium is not as straightforward and easy as it sounds. My first taste of true Belgian waffles came in Brussels. I was young and naïve to the ways of the waffle world in this country. I quickly learned that there is a right way and a wrong way with waffles in Belgium. To avoid an international incident or being pegged a tourist just by the waffle that you order, follow this guide for your Belgian waffle enjoyment.
What’s in a name? Diners in the United States often stamp “Belgian” in front of “waffle”. Back in the waffle’s home country, this type of waffle is actually referred to as the Brussels waffle. To add even more confusion to this waffle story, the Brussels waffle wasn’t invented in the city but rather in the town of Ghent in 1839. Restaurateur Maurice Vermersch brought this waffle over to America and sold the sweet treat under the name “Bel-Gem Waffles” at New York’s 1964 World’s Fair. However, Belgians had been consuming these waffles far earlier and under a different name.
When do you eat them? This might sound like a rather silly question, but if you order up a waffle in Belgium before noon, no one will mistake you for a local. Waffles are not breakfast food in Belgium but rather eaten in the afternoon as a snack. Some eat the waffle hot or cold depending on where you go.
What’s a Belgian waffle exactly? The American version of the Belgian waffle tends to cloud perceptions of the original dish. A Belgian waffle, called also a Brussels waffle, is prepared with yeast-leavened batter and generally takes on a rectangular shape. It is light, thick and crisp and boasts large pockets compared to other waffles. And there are plenty of other types of waffles. The Brussels waffle is not to be confused with the Liege waffle. Named after the town in Eastern Belgium, the Liege waffle tends to be sweeter than the Brussels waffle. It has pearls of sugar baked on top of it and has more of an oval shape. Its batter is more in line with bread dough. The Liege waffle can come in different batter flavors as well like vanilla and cinnamon.
How do locals eat them? The waffles catered to the tourists in Belgium tend to be piled high with all sorts of toppings. Most locals wouldn’t be caught salivating over these cases of waffles. Belgians traditionally eat their Brussels waffle with a little bit of butter and confectioner’s sugar. Some like to add fruit on top of their waffle as well. Unlike most American Belgian waffles, you won’t find a local slathering on syrup to their waffle either. You will uncover the locals eating their Belgian waffles at cafes and brasseries. Those rather rough looking carts selling waffles tend to appeal to the traveler on the go but not the local in search of delectable and true Belgian waffles.
Have you had waffles in Belgium?
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