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 Jul 20 2022

Nationale feestdag van België - Moules Frites From Belgium

The Belgian National Day is celebrated annually on July 21, to commemorate the date on which King Leopold I took the constitutional oath as the first King of Belgium in 1831. The National Day (Dutch: Nationale Feestdag van België; French: Fête nationale belge; German: Belgischer Nationalfeiertag) is celebrated as a public holiday all over the country and in Belgian emigrant communities abroad.

The main festivities occur in Brussels and start in the evening before, with a concert known as the "Bal National". In the morning, there is a church service attended by the King and other dignitaries, followed by a military parade in the afternoon. Traditionally, there is a televised speech of the King and the day finishes with a huge fireworks display.

Throughout the country, celebrations often involve church services, flea markets, and public concerts. Due to Belgium's climate, rain is common on the National Day and is popularly referred to (in French) as the "Drache Nationale" (National Downpour).

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The Belgian cuisine is widely varied with significant regional variations, while also reflecting the cuisines of neighbouring France, Germany and the Netherlands. It is sometimes said that Belgian food is served in the quantity of German cuisine but with the quality of French food. Outside the country, Belgium is best known for its chocolate, waffles, fries and beer.

The National Dish of Belgium is Moules Frites. It is thought that the dish originated in Belgium by combining mussels, a popular and cheap foodstuff eaten around the Flemish coast, and "frites", fried potato sticks, which the Belgians are believed to have invented back in 1781. Frites are thicker than French fries and very crisp because, like traditional English chips, you fry them twice.

The Belgian mussels are generally from the North Sea, giving them a fresh and silky taste. The most common way to cook them is in white wine with shallots, parsley, and butter (la marinere). However, other recipes replace the wine with Belgian beer, add cream (la crème), or use vegetable stock.

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Moules marinière: Probably the most common and internationally recognisable recipe, moules marinière includes white wine, shallots, parsley and butter. As a dish, the moules and the frites are usually served separately, to avoid the fries becoming soggy in the sauce. Often, the moules are served in the pan used to cook them.
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Dipping the fries in the leftover broth/sauce is the perfect way to devour this dish. About 30 million tons of moules frites are eaten every year in Belgium – that's 3kg per person!

Story by Joint Support and Enabling Command

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Belgian Cuisine
Belgian Food

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