Bourgondiër Weekend in Belgium

Burgundians, in the Nederlands, can be explained (as a cliché) as those who enjoy the relaxed lives of southern Limburgers, Brabants and Flemish. Others say that this lifestyle derived from the excessive luxury and lavish lifestyle of the Burgundian court especially when this court moved to Brussels in the 15th century, which was one of the richest cities of Western Europe in that period. The “Burgundy” lifestyle focuses on good food and drink with a big party like carnival. (Thanks wiki and google translate)
It has been a heavy long weekend in Belgium, full of great food and drinks. This past Friday I finally got word that my Kenyan Visa is approved so its off to Africa this coming Saturday. Leuven is just ending its ‘quiet’ summer as the students start to arrive and move into their new apartments to begin their studies next week.  However, Leuven is still busy because it is currently holding a Carnival. The past 4 days I have indulged in many Belgian beers and deep-fried goodies such as smoutebollen (loosely translated to Fat Balls), a gooey deep-fried dough ball that sprinkled with powdered sugar. 7 were enough to share between 2 people and that’s probably for the best because they can’t be healthy. And to me, the smoutebollen can’t compete with a good old waffle. Yesterday, we ‘carnivaled’ in young Flemish style, by going on a little pub crawl with Billy’s friends that started at 11:30 am. Billy and I were actually late and arrived around 1:30, but the rest of the afternoon was spent drinking Stella’s that were going down smoothly and quickly. There was a party atmosphere in one of the town intersections that was closed off to traffic. They had a Dj playing top 40 hits and almost every Flemish drinking song. I had a fun time watching numerous 40-50 year old men and women who were whooping it up and dancing on speakers. I also managed to have 2 waffles and an excellent sausage in a fresh bun with lots of mustard. Then around 10 pm, I was not feeling so good and I’m now planning a detox.

Beer Tent during a festival. Photo by Joris Janssen

This weekend was also nice because I had a couple of very nice homemade dinners while visiting my boyfriend’s parents.Saturday was very hot so we spent the afternoon lounging in the sun, chatting, and taking a dip in the pool to cool down. Then Billy and I had a nice BBQ dinner of spiced chicken thighs, turkey kabobs, and roasted potatoes with corn on the cob with a great red wine (Michel Torino 2009 from Argentina). The next morning Michel made the Sunday dinner (usually the Flemish have their big Sunday meal in the afternoon instead of the evening) so my brunch was veal, creamy mashed potatoes with a Boursin cheese & mushroom sauce, and fresh broccoli. And more red wine to go with brunch… yes! Michel gave me a couple great tips for keeping mushrooms juicy (just add a bit of lemon juice) and how to keep cooked broccoli looking green and lively by rinsing them with cold water after they are finished boiling. It was such a nice surprise to have a Sunday dinner that is similar to what I usually have at home in Canada with my family. It definitely made me feel a lot better since I had suffered a bit of homesickness this last week or so. It’s amazing how good food and great company can lift your spirits instantly.

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