E – Eating
Here’s a touchy subject.
The Portuguese and the Belgians are really proud in knowing how to eat well. As we say in Portugal, “being a good fork”. But it has been taking me some time to get used to the Belgian fork. I’ve lost count to the number of times I’ve annoyed locals with disgruntled comments regarding their eating culture… Now I’m starting to accept it and even liking and incorporating lot’s of stuff in my kitchen.
Besides eating in, one has lot’s of options to eat out. That’s where the love for food of Belgians is most visible: in the quality and abundance of restaurants! Probably owing to the inflow of people from all over the world, it’s easier to try new exotic or Mediterranean stuff than Belgian cooking. Cheap or splurge, slow or fast, sit or take away, gourmet or simple… within easy reach, there shall be an eating place to meet your taste! Despite the great variety and the nice food, there’s one thing that many restaurants have in common: there’s more kindness in a stampede of buffalo’s than in the service of the waiters.
F – Family and Friends
I don’t know about the Walloon Region, but here in Flanders people get married A LOT and have A LOT of babies! They buy their own homes, get married and start having children a quite a young age! It’s a wonderful thing! It´s a sign of prosperity and that young people are optimist and have a sense security in the future! (No, young-Belgian-reader, you don’t get to roll your eyes. I wish I felt stable enough to even be allowed to think about owning a house somewhere because I won’t need to leave that place in a long time…)
It’s also a reflection of their sociability and relationships. Compared to them, despite being more conservative the Portuguese are promiscuous! Belgians (the Flemish?) have a solid concept of family and friends and a very well defined boundary of where they’re intimacy starts. I call it their privacy bubble. To write about it, I should be able to describe it but I am not because I know it better from the outside. If you try to rush inside the bubble, you’ll bounce back as if you’d hit a giant water balloon. If you stay put and be patient, you’ll gradually be integrated. It’s a good thing as well! Everybody says it’s hard to make a Belgian friend, but once you get yourself one, you’ve got the best kind of friend.
Still, I do have some hints of what happens inside the bubble. It involves DIY, not being alone much and having barbecues!
(Disclaimer: of course this is a generalization, but you get the idea…)