Exercise #170 : Belgium

What do you know about Belgium? Write down what you can in five minutes. Be as specific as possible (and don't forget the chocolate).

I have a confession to make.
I know almost nothing about Belgium. No, not almost. I know absolutely nothing about it.

In fact, the chocolate didn't even come into mind until it was mentioned in the exercise itself... Sigh... I'm not dumb, I promise.

This is Belgium, located between France & Germany.
Does anyone know anything about it? I'm honestly at kind of a loss...

Must go off to think for a little bit... perhaps pick up a copy of the encyclopedia...

-------------------------------

UPDATE!

Consider me Successful Suzie, because I have found something on which to write!

Drumroll, please...

BEER!

I toyed with talking about waffles, but then I found out that the Belgian Waffle (not to be confused with the Brussels Waffle) originated in the states. I feel like I lost a little bit of my innocence with that heart-wrenching discovery. It's like Santa Clause all over again...

Before I continue, I must admit that I am nothing of a beer aficionado. In truth, I am a rum and coke girl down to my very toes and would rather guzzle a Smirnoff Ice than a Guiness. That being said, let's get on with it, shall we?
a bunch of Belgian beers

Anyways, beer and Belgians go together like beer and hops, really. They don't identify with the malted barley beverage as strongly as the Oktoberfest-throwing Germans, but it is an integral part of their culture. According to Wikipedia, a Belgian drinks 93 liters of beer a year. I imagine living there would be like one, year-long frat party, but perhaps my imagination is getting away from me like it so frequently does.

Now here's the interesting part: Trappist Beer. This specific type of beer is brewed in Trappist monasteries and doesn't refer to the style of beer (i.e. ale, lager, etc) but to where they are made. To date, there are only seven monasteries in the world that meet the qualifications required to bear the official moniker "Trappist." Guess how many of those seven are in Belgium...

Give up?

Six. That's right, folks. Belgians have cornered the market on Trappist beer. High fives all around and 3 cheers for Belgium!

Oh, and don't forget the Netherlands either. They have the other one. Woo!

If you're looking for a list of Belgian-specific beer types, you could mosey on over to Wikipedia, but I have compiled (aka copy and pasted) the list right below here so you don't have to do that extra clicking. Aren't I a doll?

Belgian Beer Types:
Amber ales (Ambrée and Speciale)
Blonde or golden ale
Brown ale
Champagne beers
Dubbel
Flemish Red
Hop-accentuated beers
Lambic beers (including Gueuze and Fruit Lambics)
Oud bruin, or Flemish sour brown ale
Pils or pale lager
Saison
Scotch ales
Stout
Table beer
Tripel
White or wheat beer
Winter or Christmas beers

And there you have it! Let's have another round of applause for the Beer Brewing Belgians (Man alive, I love some good alliteration...)!!

I hope you all have (or have had) an absolutely wonderful day! And a big thank you for stopping by!

Up tomorrow: I play a little telephone with a character of mine. Tune in around 10-11am (central time)!

Peace.
Stef.

P.S. I may or may not have a 2nd post later on today, because - silly me - I forgot that today was Friday! I haven't taken part in #FridayFlash in a while, but I really wanted to this week. Hopefully, I'll have something written up by the end of the day. Wish me luck!

Comments

erjames40 said…
Belgium is famous for beer, chocolate, waffles and french fries. As you said.
There are many Brands of Belgium Chocolate like...Callebaut, Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Guylian, Galler and Godiva, are world renowned and widely sold.
Belgium produces over 500 varieties of beer as the Trappist is the most Popular. If you want any more 'facts' go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium That is where I got those facts.
Summer Ross said…
I know nothing of Belgium either. Good luck with the research and stop by my blog- I have an award for you :) Have a great weekend!
K2 said…
I was an exchange student in Belgium.
Belgians are known for beer, but they are also known for:
Diamonds,
Lace,
Chocolate,
Waffles,
Hercule Poirot
and Pommes frites! Also known as "French Fries" this dish was invented by the Belgians. They are rather sensitive about it being called French Fries, too.
And if memory serves, Antwerp has a pretty good zoo, too.
J@y said…
I've been looking for a way to become a better blogger writer and I thank you for the exercise. I just started with this one today. I got my notebook and there it is five min. worth of what I remember of my trip to Belgium in 2004.Overall I remember the hotel I stayed at, just becuase I'd never enjoyed such luxury before that time,or since that time for that matter. Of course the chocolates delectable taste and perfume are absolutely memorable.I wish I could transport my self to Brussels and relive that moment in time.
Bret said…
Belgium is where Waterloo is and where they make tasty beer.

Do I win a prize?
naoma* said…
Things about belgium in 5 minutes...

Belgium is home to the European Union, it resides in Brussels. "French fries" are actually a belgium speciality, their Moules et frites(mussels and fries) top speciality.) In Brussels they have the flower carpet sometime in August, where they lay out flowers all over the main plaza in front of the palace. The architect of that palace made a mistake and made one wing longer than the other, by a large amount, and when he found out he jumped off the room. In Brussels they have the Mannequin Pis, a statute of a boy actually peeing. The statue supposedly represents a great citizen back in the day that extinguished a huge fire in the city by peeing on it. Belgians are super friendly and will literally take the cigarette out of your hand if you. Another cool thing is that Belgium has two official languages French and Flemmish... Talk about awesome! Any way you should go. ;)


Love this blog. Have a good weekend and by the way:: Bruges beer is so delicious.. take it from me because I would gladly take a Smirnoff Ice over a beer any day.. but wine is my thing.
C. Benz P. said…
We just had a similar convo yesterday at work. Aside from beer, everyone was at a loss about Belgium.

By chance, do you know what language they speak? The concensus at work was Finnish but I'm not buying that (just realizing that I meant to wiki that tidbit yesterday but forgot...doh!).
LivewithFlair said…
Greetings! I found you from a blogger referral! I'm a writing teacher who also tries to write everyday. Keep up the great work! I'm at www.livewithflair.blogspot.com
Jill C. said…
All I could think of is that it's in Europe, and Belgian chocolate and Belgian waffles.
Brussels is the capital and a very important city for business as mentioned before it is the home of the European Union. It also has very perverted boys (as most countries do), it speaks not only french but I think Flemmish? And I have two friends who live there. Belgium also has many schools for those kids who parents have moved to Belgium for business so the schools cater for children of all races and languages.

www.rubyccino.blogspot.com

Ruby
xxx
Arseface said…
I only know the whole WWII thing, with it being annexed by Germany on their way to France. Maybe that's not even correct
Alessandra said…
Well, all I knew about Belgium has been said already. The capital is Brussels, where the European Union headquarter is. Belgians can speak more than one language, although Flemish is the main one (I think..). Belgium is considered one of the most socially advanced countries in Europe. Btw, great blog, I just found it, so I'll support your efforts to become a better writer, as I wish to do the same with mine
http://alexsblogginglife.blogspot.com
Rachael Melody said…
The husband says they speak two different languages in Belgium, depending on the area. One is French, which they call Walloon, and the other is Dutch, which they call Flemish.

Flemish Giants (a type of rabbit) are most likely from Belgium.

Nice blog - I too am a daily writer. I don't do exercises or prompts every day, but I do, without fail, write 500 words a day, every day, and have done so since the first day of 2007 - I've been writing daily longer than I've known my husband, LOL. I'm looking forward to keeping up with your blog :-D
Rosemary said…
I have a Belgian au pair who lives with me and takes care of my three kids. She's wonderful. She's 19 and speaks 4 living languages fluently, and two dead ones besides. She loves chocolate and her family and, of course, French Fries. She speaks Dutch, which is known in Belgium as Flemish. The other half of Belgium speaks French. Belgium is almost exactly the same size as Maryland. She also loves soccer, which is the national sport of every nation but the U.S., as it turns out. She takes beautiful, thoughtful, creative care of my children, which is not an easy job. She is hands down the most responsible, level-headed teenager I have ever met. I've often mentioned her in my own blog: this is the post in which I commit to one day visit Belgium (mostly for the chocolate): http://rosemarycoloredglasses.blogspot.com/2010/04/prime-numbers.html
Solar Powered said…
Belgium, gr8 place to visit. Lots of good beer,diamonds, chocolate and food. People there are very friendly. Art Nouveau architecture is wild. Flemish and French are spoken, but unlike in France, nearly everyone speaks English.
A must place to visit when travelling in Europe!
Vincent said…
Belgian Frites are widely available in the East Village in NYC. I make it a point to get a pile of them with the fantastic sauces that they serve. Very nice site, I could read for a long time. Thanks much. My blog is all drawings and stuff. Please stop by
Numbskull said…
Howdy folks! I am really amazed that everyone who commented about Belgium absolutely left out "Glass"!!!! Belgium is very famous for its Glasses..be it stained Glass, vases, bottles, mirrors etc..but nice to see the great feedback from you all.
Patty said…
@K2 - yes! Lace - one of the largest centers for lace making :) It is the first lace I learned to make. It is just lovely.
I lived in Antwerp for a year while I was in High School - not foreign exchange, my whole family moved there.... This is what little I know

The Belgians are famous for:

chocolate (NOT like our chocolate - it is MUCH less sweet, very delicious once you get used to it- when I moved back to the States it was over a year before I could eat american chocolate again because of the sugar content -and the flavor is much more -- rich --

they are also FAMOUS for diamonds... their diamond sector is world-renowned.

Also, the Belgians are the originators of "French Fries" you WILL receive a lecture when ordering "French Fries" in Belgium.

BEER - there are a Beer Shop just down the road from our apartment that had over 1000 different kinds of Beer - my Dad made it his job to taste each and every one and rank them. we had a line of bottle around the apartment by the time we left.

They speak Finish (at least in the part that I lived in) - but LOVED to "practice" their fluent English whenever they could.

They don't drink milk. Seriously. We had to seriously search for milk for our cereal... and the only thing we COULD find was in a carton and WARM. yuck

They have waffle shops at nearly every corner in the spring and summer... and they are DELICIOUS

Lace- the most beautiful lace I've ever seen I found in Antwerp

many many castles... my most memorable castle visit was "The Castle of the Counts".. it even had a dungeon. drawbridge, and moat. And was much better taken care of than American landmarks. Was open to tourists.

They throw away "grandmas" furniture.. anything less than 100 years old... isn't worth keeping. We got lots of gorgeous "antiques" (by the american standard) just for the price of hauling it away.

All of their streets give pedestrians the right of way. And mopeds are a vehicle of choice... they can drive anywhere they like... sidewalks... between other vehicles... it's crazy

They receive (or at least 10 years ago they did) "new release" movies at least 6 months behind America.

semis and tractor trailers are not allowed on the road - major or otherwise - on Sundays.

Antwerp - a major city - has a pedestrian and bike (not motor) that goes UNDER the Senne River. It's not crowded and a lovely stroll across the tunnel.

I think that's it!
Joe said…
Belgium is a nice country, unpretentious and lively, french and flemmish, great beer, chocolate and diamonds. The city of Gent rocks- never sleeps
Joe
M C said…
I came across your blog as I was browsing through the “Blogs of note” and I read your writing exercise about Belgium. For me (I live in Bruges, Flanders) it’s quite interesting and amusing to read what people know about Belgium. But when I read that some people think we speak Finnish, I wanted to let you all know some facts about Belgium:

Belgium has 3 official languages: Dutch (Flemish), French and (a very small part) German. Flemish is in fact Dutch. Written - it is exactly the same language, but spoken - it is pronounced quite differently than the kind of Dutch they speak in the Netherlands. Flemish has many different dialects, for example the dialect spoken in Bruges is very different from the dialect in Antwerp. So you could say that Flemish is the collection of all the different Dutch dialects that are spoken in Flanders.

Belgium has 3 regional (and political) communities: Flanders (Flemish), Wallonia (French and a small part German) and Brussels (bilingual - Flemish and French).

About 60% of the people speak Flemish, about 40% speak French, less than 1% speak German. Roughly you could draw a line halfway across the country where the northern part (above Brussels) speaks Flemish and the southern part (below Brussels) speaks French. At school, starting from the age of 6, we get French lessons (or Dutch lessons, if you live in Wallonia). And from the age of 12 we get English lessons as well. So most people speak 3 or more languages.

Other than the clichés about Belgium, such as: beer, waffles, chocolate, lace, frites and manneken pis

we also have tennis: Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. The first president of the European council: Herman Van Rompuy. Many great fashion designers: Walter Van Beirendonck, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkenbergs, … . Two astronauts: Dirk Frimout and Frank De Winne. Spa (the mineral water). The medieval city Bruges (the most popular tourist destination in Belgium). In Bruges (the movie). Painters: Rubens, Breughel, Van Eyck, James Ensor, René Magritte, … . The greatest cyclist of all times: Eddy Merckx. Many highly ranked restaurants in the Michelin Guide. The adventures of Tin Tin. The Smurfs. The Menin Gate in Ypres (built in memory of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed during WW I). Beguinages and belfries. Jules Destrooper biscuits. And of course Jean-Claude Van Damme (a.k.a. the Mussels from Brussels) ;-)

Great blog btw.
5 random things I learned in 5 days in Brussels:

1. People will go out of their way to communicate with you. I'm fluent in English, American Sign Language and Spanglish (lol), none of which did me any good, but it never stopped me from conversing with everyone I passed, especially the men.

2. Typical American 'conveniences' are few and far between. You will be hard pressed to find a drive thru restaurant or even a gas station open late at night. Definitely not convenient when leaving the club after a night of sipping raspberry beers in abundance.

3. It is not free to use the restroom in clubs. My friend is a DJ there, so we club hopped while I visited. In every single club we went to, there was an attendant. Some even had a price list on the wall of how much you're expected to pay. Luckily for me, the 'I'm with the DJ' line was true and did work for my benefit.

4. You can get Chinese food there too, just don't expect them to know what 'hot oil' is.

5. Everything you eat there is fresh. Wandering around the grocery store (which was owned by the same company that own Food Lion here in the states), I dont recall seeing a frozen food section. The refrigerators at home were small like dorm fridges, so there was nowhere to store frozen veggies and the like. I think that directly affects the noticeable difference in the taste of food there. The meat tasted different, which I attributed to the lack of preservatives and hormones I assumed aren't filling their food. It was definitely something a typical american palette would have to get used to.
TV said…
Hahaha! No one knows very much about Belgium don't worry, it's too small to even fit its whole name on the world map... sigh... I am Belgian so if you ever have questions over my country I'm your gal ;)
Personally what I prefer when I go home is a good cold beer and just about the best pastries and 'tartes' that you will ever find. Don't forget to pass by a 'fritkot' where we sell only fries, fries, fries.
And contrary to the word 'french fries', fries were actually invented in Belgium. ;)

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