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Benelux Gastronomy / ベネルクスガストロノミー

The Benelux is a wonderful place for food, as your tasting adventures can veer from elegant and refined dining to utterly unpretentious, cozy bars and cafes and perhaps most fun of all, to cones spilling over with steaming frites and fragrant waffles to keep your hands or your coffee warm, depending on the country and the treat.

Eating in Belgium is a favorite pastime for almost every visitor, not to mention the people who live here. The aroma of malty waffles wafts over every market and many a street corner, enticing you to ruin your appetite for your next meal. And what a meal it might be, mussels a million ways, eel in green sauce, caramelized onions slathered over a joint of ham or carbonnade, the beef stew redolent with Belgian beer. These are some of the classic dishes, but you’ll fine amazingly innovative cooking as well at city restaurants and in lovely countryside settings. Also be sure to make an effort to identify your favorite brand of Belgian chocolates; hard work but worth doing. One other way you should definitely endanger your dinner plans: survey the dozen sauces at the frites stand and open up your snack life to a wider world.

Holland is a dangerously wonderful place for little bites between meals. Fritjes (French fries in some countries) are an extremely popular pick-me-up; whether these potato sticks are better here or in Belgium is entirely up to the frite-ee. In the fall when the herring comes in, toss your head back and slither a tasty fish down your own gullet; you’ll get the knack and be glad you did. Keep your coffee steaming with a stroopwafel, a layer of caramel joining two waffle-ish cookies,specifically designed to sit atop your hot coffee to soften up. Heaven. For spicier fare, get really hungry and then tuck in to a rijsttafel, a gift from Indonesian colonial days and as sumptuous an array of exotic flavors as you could want. We also suggest a serious survey of apple cake in Holland, expertly baked, easily devoured.

Cuisine in Luxembourg is, not surprisingly, greatly influenced by German cooking as well as French and Belgian traditions cooking. You’ll find hearty dishes of meat, liver or wheat dumplings, a good variety of game in season, Ardennes ham and salami and freshwater fish. A little bit of everything for the pantry is produced in Luxembourg and fun to search out at farmers’ markets: honeys, jams, sausages, and eaux de vie made with local fruits. Plums are prevalent and show up in lovely tarts as well as preserves and brandies, so show your respects to this sweet little fruit one way or the other.

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