Despite the obvious inference, it is today believed French fries originated not in France but in Belgium. A Flemish manuscript dating to 1781 contains the first reference to the fried potato. Today, frites pair with another quintessential ingredient of Belgium, mussels, to create the national dish: moules-frites, a comfort-food dish popular throughout other parts of Europe, particularly in France.
Mussels, once considered a food of the poor, were eaten in the winter months in Belgium, when no other seafood was available or abundant. As were potatoes. The dish peaked in popularity after World War I, when friteries popped up across the country, churning out the dish in large quantities affordably.
Moules-frites remains ubiquitous in modern-day Belgium, a social dish that brings people around a table to enjoy bowls of steaming mussels and perfectly fried frites. The dish is served in separate bowls so the French fries do not become saturated and soggy, the mussels typically displayed in the same pan and stock they are cooked in. The best mussels come from the Scheldt, a shallow river connecting Western Belgium to the Netherlands. Mussels should be shaken during preparation to ensure they cook evenly. The bintjes potato is preferred for frites due to its high starch content; the potatoes are typically double-fried with a hint of cayenne. While a variety of sauces may be available, mayonnaise traditionally accompanies the dish.
Moules-frites can be found anywhere in Belgium, but it doesn’t have to be the same each time you enjoy the dish. Several popular variations for the mussels exist. Perhaps the most popular, mariniéres prepares the mussels in white wine, shallots, parsley and butter. A simple preparation, au vin blanc mussels are cooked in white wine. Natures means the mussels are prepared with celery, leeks and butter. À la crème is similar to the mariniéres version, but with flour and cream for a thicker consistency. À l’ail, another popular method, marries the mussels with sliced or minced garlic.
More modern interpretations of moules-frites infuse the steaming liquids with different flavors, such as smoky chili or curry, or with another traditional Belgium staple, beer — moules à la bière. Also increasing in popularity is moules parquées, mussels served raw on a half-shell with a lemon-mustard sauce.
Adventure tour operator Explore Worldwide recently conducted a study to find the most underrated travel experiences around the world. The operator analyzed more than 350 lesser-known destinations and experiences across more than 130 countries, ranking them based on how high its Trip Advisor score fared against how many people actually reviewed the activity and how many Google searches the experience received.
From 24-Hour Butler Service to a Sky Pool: Boutique Luxury Awaits at Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences in Los Cabos
Set on a seaside bluff overlooking Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences is a Baja paradise specializing in serene vistas and impeccable hospitality, offering a Pacific coast lifestyle with authentic Mexican touches. Guests can now earn a fourth night free at the stunning resort, plus a $100 resort credit, when booking through March 20, for travel through June 15.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Buenos Aires, Argentina, with us.
Philadelphia International Airport announced a new Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club is coming to the airport. Created in collaboration with PHL, MarketPlace PHL, Chase and Airport Dimensions, the 20,000-square-foot lounge space, in the airport’s Terminal D/E connector, will boast locally inspired décor and a curated menu.
United Airlines remains firmly committed toward sustainability in aviation. The latest development in its eco-conscious goals includes working with Oxy Low Carbon Ventures to commercialize the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) with biotech firm Cemvita Factory. Cemvita looks to develop a revolutionary new way to produce SAF by using carbon dioxide and synthetic microbes. Additionally, United Airlines Ventures (UAV) recently announced an equity investment in Fulcrum, and United has invested more in SAF production than any other airline in the world.
At the end of October, Celebrity Cruises’ newest ship, Celebrity Beyond, arrived in New York City, marking its North American debut and beginning its inaugural U.S. season. I had the pleasure of exploring the ship while it was docked in Bayonne, New Jersey, and learning more about the transformational new ship with the first and American female captain, Kate McCue.
At nearly 30,000 square feet, United Airlines’ newest United ClubSM now welcomes Newark Liberty International Airport travelers with its modern design, enhanced amenities, culinary offerings, locally sourced art and furniture and Manhattan skyline views. Seek airport solace at the new location in Terminal C3, near Gate C123.
Looking for your next place to instill inspiration? These neighborhoods and hotels saw literary greats walk their corridors, from James Joyce to Oscar Wilde. Consider staying at these elegant properties and walking these destinations to experience the same influential nature these places had on some of the greatest writers in history.