Food Culture and Tradition

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Belgian Domestic Life and Special Occasions

DOMESTIC LIFE

Most Belgian kitchens, though tiny by western standards, are well equipped, people commonly own freezers and dishwashers. Because there is still a strong preference for the use of fresh, seasonal foods, large storage areas and complicated equipment are really not a necessity. Family meals are often eaten in the home, but entertaining may often occur in restaurants, further obviating the need for complex preparation or large storage areas.

SPECIAL OCCASIONS

Belgians, with few exceptions, are Roman Catholic, the Flemish being more religious than the Walloons. A specialty of Catholic Flanders’ Friday menu is botermelk met mavermout, a meatless soup of buttermilk thickened with oatmeal.

Christmas is celebrated with no special menu, but with the best that each home has to offer. For many this may be a rich game dinner, for others pork or beef, but almost all will climax their Christmas dinner with a buche de Noel, a log of chocolate cake, trimmed to look like a fallen log, sometimes complete with mushrooms created of egg meringue.

Whitsun is a spring holiday welcomed after the long winter because it heralds spring’s tender young vegetables and wild strawberries.

Family christenings are celebrated with afternoon tea or coffee; small packages of candied almonds are often sent to friends as a memento of the occasion. First communions, engagements, and weddings are often celebrated as formal occasions with elegant buffets and dances.

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