Brendan Gara Photography

beer and loathing

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“You have fish and chips…we have this”

“I suppose so, yes”

“This is better though!”

The man in front of me looked awkwardly at the trays of frites with mayonnaise balanced in his hands,

“Mmmm……….Okay……….”

The Belgian laughed out loud and continued to tuck into his tray of hot, thin crispy frites and scooped up a huge dollop of mayo.

“Better with beer!”

Frites and mayo, the snack of choice in Belgium was becoming our go to snack whilst roaming the streets of Bruges. We’d tried a restaurant or two, but you can only eat beefstew (with apple sauce and a huge bowl of frites and mayo), mussels and frites (again with mayo) so many times. We had got tired of the endless smug trip advisor reviews pointing the “in the know” tourists to the “proper local haunts”, only to find the same menu of beefstew, mussels and frites only at a few euros lower than the tourist traps surrounding the square.   I don’t believe locals venture out on a Wednesday night to eat beefstew with apple sauce at 18 euros a go all that often.

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We’d taken to eating frites on the fly during the day, and having a bratwurst and beer or gluwein (hot red wine) or two in the evening in the market in the square. We’d also switched to mustard after reaching near terminal mayonnaise exposure.

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We did the touristy things early on, the belfry, the blood of Christ, the art galleries and the museums although we missed the beer museum.   What is it with the animals in clothes?  Thirsty and tired we ended up in the Duvalorium, a bar run by Duval (a famous Belgian beer), which was part of the newly built Historium centre. The Historium experience promised an hour-long multimedia extravaganza, where you could immerse yourself in Bruges’ rich medieval history of trading and art.

The bar offered tasting trays, 3 or 4 glasses of different beers to share, from Trappist ales to wheat beers and sparkling fruit beers. Naturally we wanted to optimise our time, and taste in an efficient manner, so a tray each. After the second tray we both had a better idea of what we liked.

Obviously time to branch out, so more selections were made and carried over to the table. We’re careful drinkers so we also ordered the cheese board to help mop up the alcohol. Hoping for a selection of Belgian cheese and crackers, the huge mound of cubed cheddar, two cocktail sticks and a bowl of mustard that arrived was a bit disappointing.

We ate it though. We had to: I was starting to speak Flemish and we still had the Historium to see.   Lots of things moved, animatronic people, doors opened, something about a green parrot and a rather saucy communal bath scene.  Thoroughly recommended!

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