Chocolate and Beer
Hey – as an American, if there are two things that Belgium is known for, it’s chocolate and beer, right? So, leaving the peaceful little park behind, I catch up with my party as we walk down Ooststraat (“East Street”) in search of some Belgian goodies.
As luck would have it, a lovely chocolate shop is placed there – almost as if it were waiting for us! It’s small enough for only a few people at a time, and since there was someone (seemingly local) making her purchase, we decided to be as unobtrusive and quiet as possible until they were done. Speaking English among ourselves, rather than the local Dutch or French, we would have definitely stood out as visitors, had our general appearance and my ever-present camera not given us away (ha).
But, as her previous customer departed and we excitedly (and a little more vocally) started looking over the selection, the store owner lit up when she realized we were English speakers! Asking us where we were from prompted a great conversation, as she had spent some time in Chicago. While we were talking, and pointing at a few samples we were considering, she graciously started filling a box with a huge selection of lovely treats. At the end, she charged us what we thought was a mere fraction of what they chocolates would probably actually be worth. I rack this up to being such polite visitors and giving her a chance to practice her (very good) English again.
And now, beer.
This was far easier to find! Before this, I had not really had an authentic Belgian beer. Leffe, brewed first in 1240, is a very traditional example.
The Leffe line has several distinctive types, like many other brewers, but we enjoyed a very light beer that was perfect with both the sunny afternoon and our recently-acquired chocolates. 🙂
Sitting outside on a perfect day, in a little Belgian cafe, in a small Belgian village, with fresh Belgian beer and chocolates? Yes please!