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.
As the vaccine rolls out and travel begins to pick up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Panama City with us.
Boca Raton Resort & Club recently announced a new partnership with Major Food Groups, creating one of the best culinary destinations in the United States. Major Food Groups is the company behind some of the hottest restaurants, including Carbone, The Grill and Parm. This partnership will launch multiple dining concepts as part of the resort's $150 million transformation.
The Franklin London Launches Afternoon Tea Inspired by Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser”
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Hotel San Luis Obispo partners with Harmony Cellars for the SLO in Harmony offer. The offer includes 15 percent off a two-night stay Sunday–Thursday, a complimentary wine tasting for two at Harmony Cellars, club member discounts at the winery for the day and the opportunity to explore the town of Harmony, California, population of 18 and located 30 miles from San Luis Obispo. Book online.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
Enjoy additional perks at Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, with the Vitamin Sea, D & Me offer. Rates begin at $130 per night, including complimentary breakfast daily, a healthy starter at Arrecifes Restaurant, one poke bowl and one drink at El Palmar Restaurant. The use of one beachside pergola per stay is also included. The offer is valid on stays through Dec. 21, and use code S5706 to book.