Something other than fries and waffles


Last night I attended a birthday party dinner for my friend Fabian at a Belgian restaurant called Markt. I have to admit to being really surprised by how good the food was (I had the Carbonades, which is kinda like a beef bourguignon, but made with beer and tastier). Two of the people at our table (my friend Truike and some guy whose name escapes me) are of Belgian background and got all haughty about their national cuisine, feeling the need to disparage French cuisine in the process. It struck me again how similar the relationship is between them to Canada and the US. The larger, more culturally influential neighbor to the south always ignoring the neighbor to the north. The belief by just about everyone, upon speaking with a northern neighbor, that they are from the larger country to the south. These are some of the slights that both Canadians and Belgians suffer from, and it generally causes them to strongly declare how superior their culture is in a sort of reverse chauvinism. They usually toss out a mix of things that supposedly make them better, like lower gun violence or universal health care, which I totally agree with.

But the imp in me just can’t help but respond with things like “Cory Hart” and “Brussels“.


  1. laurent says:

    think of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot who always has to say he is belgian, because people think that, as he’s speaking “fran├žais”, he is necessarily french !

    I have to admit that we french people tend to be unfair with our friendly northern neighbours… worst of all, you would find many french tourists feeling So surprised that people don’t speak french in flanders, for we all (=the french) know that in belgium, people DO speak french (in fact in flanders they speak flemish, a dutch-like language, and by the way they represent 60% of belgian population).

    the best thing about Belgium is that people are very friendly, even with the french, and god knows we don’t always deserve it ;-)

    when I was a kid, my favorite “belgian joke” (we all have one) was : “do you know why belgians can’t compete anymore in water-polo at the Olympics? It’s because all their horses drowned in the swimming pool…” NO COMMENT ! for this I now apologize, my fellow belgians :-(

    laurent CABRERA, who will be working (and living) in Brussels from septembre 2009 for 3 years