As soon as Dwight and I arrived in Belgium, I knew I loved it. I don’t remember to which station we arrived, but I do know it was in a seedy part of town. There were groups of people blocking the sidewalk, a small part of the area smelled like piss, and we seemed to have found ourselves walking in the middle of a street market, or something. Either way, the familiarity of the city drew me in; it reminded me of home; it reminded me of Chicago.
Our hotel was a fifteen-minute walk from the city center, which is also where our walking food tour met. Unlike past food tours, we were with a group of about ten people, which I wouldn’t recommend. Private tours, where it’s just you, your mate, and the tour guide are more personal; you can hear the guide, and typically, that person doesn’t mind if you want to stop and take photos or linger a little longer somewhere. With a group, you cannot do that. I have a lot of fuzzy photos for fear of being left.
Anywho, Brussels is poppin’! Picture this: it was a beautiful Saturday, with “unseasonably warm sun and weather.” According to the tour guide, Brussels in May is usually cloudy, cool, and rainy. But not that day! It was at least seventy degrees. First, we saw two statues facing one another: King Albert and Queen Elisabeth. As soon as I saw these two, I knew I was supposed to be in this country—those are Dwight’s and my middle name!
After that, we learned about the history of the city and blah, blah, blah. An hour in, and I was wondering where the food part of the food tour was. But as we ventured further into the Grand Palace, I became more and more excited. If you’ve ever been to the Paris hotel or the Bellagio in Vegas or “France” and “Italy” at Epcot, or even if you’ve seen a movie where there is a European country, then you know what Brussels looks like. It’s cobblestone; it’s outdoor restaurant seating; it’s people smoking; it’s those narrow streets and alleys that dead end into a bar! The exciting part is that I was actually there this time, instead of viewing a replica.
But other than a stop for chocolates at Pierre Marcolini, we still hadn’t eaten.
The tour guide kept showing us all of these inconspicuous things, like some famous peeing statue: one version of a girl and the other more famous one called Manneken Pis, which literally means “little man pee,” which is literally everywhere in different colors, on t-shirts, etc.
We finally got to the eating part! Our guide told us he’d eaten waffles at several places, and the one he took us to, is by far the best. It’s called Maison Dandoy, and boy was he right. As soon as I bit into it, it tasted like soft bread. The guide confirmed what I suspected. Apparently, in Belgium (and for sure at this place), they make waffles from a pizza-like dough, they sprinkle sugar on it, and then they cook it in the waffle iron, which causes the sugar to caramelize. Let me tell y’all something … this is not your United States waffle. This thing was delicious, I thought I could die and go to heaven right there.
Next, he took us to a brewery, where we each ordered a flight of beer. Dwight got the traditional flight, and I ordered the fruity one, which consisted of cherry, pear, and two others. Each was good, but there was a lot of beer. I’m pretty sure we drank a pint a piece, and that was after the waffle.
Once the tour ended, Dwight and I found one of those outdoor-seating restaurants and ordered a bucket of mussels and whole grilled fish. By the end of the day, I. was. in. love.
I don’t want you to think it was all about the food, though. I really like the ambiance of the city. There’s an energy I can feel in bustling cities, like Brussels that I don’t feel otherwise. Brussels has places you can shop that are not in other cities, which is always a plus for me. For example, Dwight bought a fly-ass hat (do people still say fly?) at a store located at Les Galaries Royales. I was also able to find a gift at a Swatch store, a place I haven’t frequented since high school, but which is still a thing in Europe. Plus, I learned the Smurfs are from Belgium! I mean, how cool is that?
There it is, good people—my review of Belgium.
Below, you can watch a video of me eating a bonafide Belgian waffle in Belgium 😉