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Taste the World

By - July 25, 2006 (Updated: November 28, 2014)


If there is anything that Andrew and I enjoy doing as much as travelling, it’s eating. While I love to cook and experiment with new recipes, I have to admit that when the budget allows (or I’m just sick of the kitchen) I love to dine out. Brussels is a great place to be when you want someone else to do the cooking, especially if you want to taste the flavours of the world.

I was a pretty picky eater when I was a child (just ask my poor mother). At home, my parents ate mostly traditional ‘meat and potatoes’ type meals with the occasional casserole or pizza thrown in to spice things up a bit.

A meal out meant either chicken fingers or cheeseburgers (with only ketchup) for me. Oh yeah and I absolutely hated vegetables — pretty much all of them, except potatoes.

Fast forward to my university days: I was in a bigger city with more food options and suddenly meal choices were my own. I started to branch out and discovered that I loved Indian food (it’s still my favourite cuisine).

From there, I began to experiment with food and found that I loved to cook and try new things. I especially enjoyed sampling food from different parts of the world.

Things were still pretty shaky on the vegetable front until I made friends with a vegetarian who just happens to be a fantastic cook. Suddenly I was tasting — and enjoying — things I never dreamed would tickle my taste buds — tofu, sushi, couscous and any vegetable under the sun.

Since I’m the chef of our household, my new passion for experimenting with flavours inevitably got passed on to Andrew. Luckily, he’s game for pretty much everything (as long as no eggplants were harmed for the meal).

With our new found passion for multicultural food, we began to explore the globe together — with our stomachs.

When we moved across the ocean and landed in Amsterdam, our world of tastes suddenly expanded. As well as traditional Dutch food (not to mention our fair share of bitterballen) we sampled Indonesian, Swiss fondue and found the best Mexican I have ever eaten.

Arriving in Brussels can be foodie heaven. The restaurant options here are as varied as the city’s inhabitants.

We’ve had excellent Moroccan tagine, German sausages, Spanish tapas, Sushi, Thai, Italian and of course we’ve been sampling many (many) Indian restaurants. Of course, there are also the local specialties and the fabulous French influences. Even the street food (waffles, frites, crepes) can be delicious.

But for every great meal we’ve had, there have been a few disasters. These include the worst ‘Mexican’ I’ve ever eaten and some very disappointing Italian (the cold, sparkling red wine should have been a warning) to name a few.

We learned the hard way that decent food can be tricky to find in the touristy areas of the city and if someone has to stand outside and lure you into the restaurant, it’s probably because nobody goes there voluntarily.

But the bad experiences aren’t bad enough to keep us from trying new things. I’m not clamouring to eat Finnish Reindeer or Ethiopian on a weekly basis, but when I can’t jump on a plane and explore a new place on foot, I can at least give my taste buds the trip of a lifetime without leaving town.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
Alison Cornford-Matheson
- 3 months ago
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