Flying the flag for gourmet food
I refer to the restaurant review of Belgos East by Neil Western in 24/7 (South China Morning Post, December 1).
As the President of the Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, I was very surprised by Mr Western's comment, 'Belgium has never been renowned for its culinary chic.'
As the real 'Children of Breughel', the Belgians have always flown the flag for gourmet food. Our gastronomic resources are the best example of a synthesis of the European spirit. Situated at the crossroads of the Latin and German traditions, our provincial cuisine has always had one objective - trading the noblest of products and making the best of them. In Belgium, eating is a social, as well as a physiological act. It constitutes a genuine act of faith. It combines a pleasant feeling with the art of living and this is reflected in our restaurants.
Belgium is a little culinary paradise; it also offers a varied range of products. Some culinary jewels include, 'tomates aux crevettes', tomatoes stuffed with grey shrimps or Belgian cheese fondues, and 'cocou de Malines' - chicken from Malines, accompanied by the famous Ardennes ham and served with white asparagus, also from Malines. We also have other famous products like Namur snails, lamb chops from the Gaume region, and traditional Belgian endives prepared with ham and cheese.
The country can also boast a fabulous variety of bread, pastries, cakes and cheeses. Its soil is extraordinarily well suited for growing vegetables in general, as well as the traditional Brussels sprouts. There are fine varieties of pork, beef and poultry, as well as quite remarkable game. We have our fish specialities from the North Sea, such as eels in green sauce, accompanied by the ubiquitous frites (chips), not forgetting of course, the most varied choice of beers in the world (over 350) to wash them down. Many of our restaurants have high quotations in the Michelin guide or the Gault and Millau.
J P CUVELIER
Chamber of Commerce