Rachel (from New Zealand) had told me to see Burges, Belgium. Her recommendation was very much appreciated. It is an hour train ride to the North West and such a quaint place to visit. The town center is full of winding little cobblestone streets lined with brick buildings that lead to several squares and markets.
I made my way to the Choco Story, which is a Belgian chocolate museum. I learned all kinds of interesting facts on how chocolate is made. The Mayans used the cocoa bean in a chocolate drink mixed with corn and pepper. The refining process is far from easy. First you have to collect the beans, shuck, dry, roast and then separate out the butter from the powder. The powder form is used in cooking or for cheap chocolate like a Twix Bar. The butter is used for specialty chocolates like pralines. I learned that you should ONLY eat chocolate that is made of 100% cocoa butter because instead of having to chew it for a long time, the chocolate will simply melt in your mouth while the flavors escape for you to enjoy. One should also not put chocolate in the fridge without any cover because it will take on all the flavors of the contents of your fridge…who wants to eat fish-chocolate??? One should also only eat chocolate at room temperature. Well, now we can all be snobby about our chocolate 😉 One nice thing was that I had to wait a bit for the next demonstration to begin, but while I waited the chocolatier let me try a whole bunch of samples.
The Belgian Frites Museum was next. The original potatoes from Peru were pretty tiny. Today, there are numerous varieties from cross breading. I found out that Americans are the reason why French Fries have their name. Belgians soldiers shared some frites with the American soldiers, but Americans thought they were Frenchmen. Sorry, Belgium! But hey, we are great at marketing! One other thing we got right was that although I like that the Belgian version is thicker, Americans use more salt and serve it with Heinz Ketchup. The Europeans use this nasty fruity tasting Ketchup…no thanks.
I headed “home” to Brussels with plans for dinner and chocolate shopping. The chocolate boutiques are so adorable, they just beckon you inside. I bought several truffles / pralines so that I can share when I get home…or that is the plan 😉