Belgian Football: The Red Devils

Since moving to Belgium I’ve made a concentrated effort to learn about and enjoy European Football. I must admit it took me a while to get over pansy players who dive compared to the rough and tough hockey players of the NHL. I’ve been slow to learn the ‘hard’ rules and still can’t clearly define what constitutes a “offside” call. Regardless of these small details I’ve come to enjoy watching football, especially since the Belgian National Team has been in action competing for a World Cup spot in 2014 taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Belgium’s national team has a long history that dates back to 1904 with their first official game against France. Since then, Belgium has earned itself a reputation as a strong second tier team. While they don’t often win major championships, they are a challenging team to meet during competition. The Red Devils had an excellent track record in the 1980’s and throughout the 90’s. Then, the team didn’t qualify for two consecutive World Cups, once in 2006 and then again in 2010. Belgians have been frustrated with the team’s progress but remained loyal and hopeful.

2011 offered a bright spot for the Red Devil’s chances to make it to the world stage once more. Young, hotshot Belgian footballers started to make a big name for themselves in the English Premier League. There’s Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany, Tottenham’s mid-fielder Moussa Dembélé, Everton’s mid-fielder Marouane Fellaini, and Chelsea’s temperamental forward Eden Hazard. Kevin de Bruyne, a hardworking ginger kid, is another favourite who has had two amazing performances in the past two games.

My personal favourite is forward Romelu Lukaku, a giant at 6’4″ with dreadlocks, who has been a phenomenon in the Belgian league since he was 16. When he started playing for Anderlecht at 16 he finished as the league’s top scorer. At 18 years old he was then bought by Chelsea, fulfilling his lifelong dream, but is currently on loan to West Bromwich Albion. To sum it up in two succinct words, he’s dreamy.

Recently, me and a couple of the boys went to the Belgium vs. Scotland game in Brussels. This was an important game for the Devils to win in order to keep their high ranking in their pool. Belgium stomped Scotland, who played like a bunch of wussies, with a score of 2-0. Seeing a game live really increased my interest in football and I would definitely go to another game. Sadly, the next one isn’t until March when Belgium will play Macedonia.

Since I’m finally beginning to understand football rules, club politics, and player gossip the game has become a nice substitute for watching hockey or CFL games at the pub. Plus, the atmosphere at the live game is so fun! People are dressed up, drinking beer, and feeling jolly. Then again, I haven’t witnessed a loss yet…

Is anyone else in Canada starting to warm up to European Football in light of the NHL lockout?

Crowd Control – This is the section of Scottish fans, clearly separated from the rest of the stadium. Wise planning…


“Hey Meredith! A little less food, a little more Nairobi”

My mom left me this comment on my last post:

“Hey Honey, I know your blog is supposed to be focused around food and drink but don’t you think your readers would like to hear/see more about your work there? Just a thought, of course it’s up to you. Love, Mom”

Now, my mother is a wise lady and if she is wondering about my work and life in Nairobi there are probably a few more people who are as well. Maybe residents in Lougheed have asked her what I have been up to… or my Grandma is getting sick of all the recipes? I gave the issue some deep thought this morning and I have come up with a few reasons why food has been a constant for me in Nairobi.

1. Food Culture is HUGE here! My social life revolves around food and restaurants. Feeling like going out? We might as well make an evening of it and go for dinner and then drinks at a nearby bar/nightclub. Kenyan people love to gather and chat over some great food and drink. Nairobi has a fun food culture that is very accessible for visitors. The food restaurant website Eat Out Kenya provides the location and reviews of many, many restaurants. Most special events held in the city have an area dedicated to buy food and drink, sit at picnic table and relax in the sunshine. There is a wonderful event, that I haven’t had a chance to attend yet, called Blankets and Wine, where people bring their blankets to an outdoor park, watch live performances of Kenya’s rich music scene and enjoy a few glasses of wine while showing off their hippest clothes. Football is HUGE here, and it is common to go to local sport’s club (our’s is K1) to watch the game, drink some Tuskers, and eat some Nyama Choma or chicken wings.

Stuffing our faces, drinking beer, and watching Liverpool vs. Man. U on 3 big screens

Or, if I am looking for a quiet Sunday morning, I hop in a matatu or taxi with the girls and head up to a mall to have a quiet Sunday tea or Vanilla Latte in the sunshine on the patio of ArtCafé.

Enjoying a Vanilla Latte

2. Too Tired to Go Out? This happens fairly often. I keep pretty busy at AKUH working on the redesign of the Pediatrics’ print media and by the time Friday comes around I want to stay in the house, do some yoga, make something sweet & yummy and watch a movie. Or, there are days where I really don’t feel like putting in the effort of getting beautiful, calling a cab, and then rejecting the advances of men at the bar who want to buy me for 5 goats… kidding! That doesn’t happen.

3. No Power? Muffins are the solution. There are days when we wake up in the morning and there is no power. This means no tea (because our oven is electric… wait, everything in our house is electric!), no toast, and lukewarm juice or yogurt. As result our house is full grumpy girls who don’t want to go to work. My solution is to make muffins almost once a week. Now, the girls and I can each grab a yummy banana muffin, then go to work and enjoy a tea with warm milk there. Problem solved!

Work is going really well though. I am well on my way to accomplishing the goals I laid out for myself and I have met a lot of very nice and fun people who are teaching me a lot about Communications as well as life in Kenya.

I realized this week I only have 5 weekends left in Kenya! It seems a lot shorter when I think about it in terms of weekends as opposed to weeks. So I sat down and made a list of things I NEED to do before I leave: see flamingo’s and rhinos, climb Mt. Kenya and Mt. Longonot, ride a bicycle through Hell’s Gate National Park, and have a beach holiday on the South Coast. After doing some research and arranging, all of my weekends are booked up from now until I leave on December 22. It’s going to be a whirlwind! And this means that my dear friends and family are going to get a break from reading recipes 😉

On another note, a giant beetle bug flew into our house Sunday morning. Of course I documented it.

Giant Beetle Bug

"Jess! Act Terrified!"

Close-up of the Giant Beetle Bug