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belgian stuff
By Dennis Batchelder 19 March 1999

first the facts:

it's a small country, split into two parts (flemish/dutch and french). but what comes from belgium, anyway?
1) chocolates. especially pralines. they're the best.
2) french fries. well, the french call them belgian fries, and belgians call them pommes frietes. but they're from belgium.
3) waffles, i guess. though i've never seen any restaurant over here serve belgian waffles, though. i think only americans eat belgian waffles.
4) beer - over 500 brands.
5) mussels. there's lots of mud along the coast, and belgium is famous for their mussels harvested from the mud.


now the story:

we arrived in belgium wednesday evening, and set up our materials for the next day's presentations. we had dinner in leuven, a 1,000 year old university town just outside of brussels.

leuven has this old market square, with restaurants all around it. we ate fondue in a swiss restaurant. not very belgian sounding, huh? for dessert i had fruits with a chocolate fondue. apparently nobody ever orders that dish - we watched the chef grab a dish and head across the street to another restaurant. the waitress told us that he was on a chocolate raid.

we left the restaurant stuffed, and walked around the "old market". leuven is a university city, and has lots of students all over the place (25,000 students and only 18,000 residents). so the bars were doing a good business, and lots of people were stumbling around the bars. every time a bar door opened, we heard the music from inside come pouring out into the market square.

no cars are allowed in the market place, so most people were walking. some were on their bikes, and every now and then a moped would go by. 

we watched this moped comes weaving over the cobblestones. two guys were on it - one driving, and his buddy riding on the back fender. the guy in the front was trying to drive straight, but i think he was hampered by too much stella artois (local beer). his buddy was busy talking to all the girls they passed.

the driver hit this bump, and oops! his buddy bounced off the fender and onto his butt. ouch! the girls were giggling and pointing. meanwhile, the driver stalled the moped as he turned around to see what happened to his buddy.

the poor guy on the ground was ok; all that was hurt was his pride. he stayed down for a while, groaning, then got up and walked ahead for a block or so. he waited for the driver to pick him up. but the driver was laughing too hard, and still talking to the girls. too embarrssed to walk back, the buddy was hollering to be picked up.

finally, the driver was ready to move on. but his moped was still stalled. he had it up on its kickstand, pedalling the wheels, trying to kick-start it, but nothing happened. i don't think he minded too much - he was too busy explaining again and again to the girls how his buddy fell off. you could see him pantomiming the story. each time he went "boom" and threw his hands up, they all laughed hysterically. 

the object of this hilarity was still waiting for his fender ride. he let out this groan and fell onto the ground. i guess it was too much effort for him to stand. or he was trying to be safe - you can't fall off the floor, right? or maybe he was taking the opportunity to grab a nap.

the girls walked off, and i guess that did it - the moped was able to start as soon as they left! miraculous, right? the driver went to his buddy, the buddy climbed on the back fender, and off they weaved down the cobblestones, no worse for wear.

belgian stuff - belgium