My previous post having moved me to soul-searching ruminations pertaining to my attachment to my home country and culture, ... I grew hungry. In itself, a very Belgian reflex, I would argue. Like I said, we're hobbits.
So anyway. I set out in search of Belgian cuisine, to celebrate this here national holiday in proper patriotic fashion. When I say "set out" of course I mean "launched Google in my browser".
Two results came up; one restaurant far away in Arlington, and one pub rather close by that I'd been to before: the Publick House in Washington Square. I remembered having a fish waterzooi there that was quite lovely despite being thoroughly adapted to American tastes (waaaaay too much cream). Not negligible to my decision process, I should add, was the fact that their beer list is beyond impressive (if pricey). They have Chouffe on tap, for crying out loud!
So, off I toddled. I ended up getting seated in the section called the Monk's Cell, which is perhaps appropriate to my general lifestyle. If you take as ecclesiastical example someone like Friar Tuck ;-)
After an apéritif of Chouffe (which the bartender insisted on calling "La" Chouffe) I had a rather nice moules-frites, with mussels cooked in Affligem blonde, tomato and spinach, marred only by the overabundant sprinkling of grated cheese (cheese! on mussels! the horror!) which I had to scrape off before any enjoyment could be had. Please note that in this case, it was not my admittedly ever present prejudice against cheese (not zombies) at work, but the very reasonable culinary observation that the strong taste of cheese (to the cook's credit, this was not the average American certified edible rubber, but something rather more European, possibly Italian) tends to overwhelm the delicate aroma of the mussels themselves.
In contrast, the Affligem broth was lovely, and I must say the sweetness of the Affligem did perfectly offset the bitterness of the spinach. So well that I could not resist dunking the spongy substance they gave me under the name of bread to sop up as much broth as I could. I usually look down on dunking (or "saucing" as we say when the point is to mop up leftover sauce on a plate) as provincial, Walloon or worse, French (kidding...) but on this occasion it was simply too tasty to pass up.
This reasonably proportioned feast was nicely complemented by a Gulden Draak, which I ordered with the appropriate Flemish pronunciation, much to the despair of the poor waitress who came back three times to make sure of what I had ordered.
I'm presently having dessert while I type this on the old iPhone -- and surprisingly, it's not taking me much longer than it would on a regular computer keyboard, because I'm an old-school two-finger-plus-the-thumb-for-space typer anyway (where have you gone, Mavis Beacon?), despite what some might think due to my well-known proficiency in computer-related "stuff".
Dessert, by the way, is a beer called "Brugse Zot" (roughly translated as "fool from Bruges", if you ignore all the semantic subtleties of the word "zot" -- see this link for a detailed explanation) which turns out to be sort of interesting in the sense that it reminds me of noodles, but is otherwise not particularly world-shaking, although I may be doing it some injustice in having it after a medium-to-heavyweight like the Gulden Draak.
And with that, I'm off to water some thirsty plants in Jamaica Plain.