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Belgium and the Fear of Beer

October 30, 2008

I'm Smiling...but I'm scared of ordering

So I may live in the Belgian Ghetto, but that’s no way to experience Belgium! The first trip we took here was a weekend jaunt to the historic city of Bruges (yeah, like that movie…except I didn’t get to take Colin Farrel with me). From there we headed up to Antwerp (or Antwerpen, or Anvers…depending on what language you speak and how much you want to confuse me at the train station).
Bruges is a very cute little city- lots of canals and lace shops and belgian chocolate. Basically I spent the weekend eating waffles and drinking the best beer in the world (don’t worry Ma, its legal here). But let’s have a chat about Belgian beer, if you are like me and not such a huge beer fan to begin with, walking into a quaint little bar in Belgium can be traumatizing. You want to fit in, mildly, you want to order your beer in French (doesn’t matter, the barman is Flemish) and you want to basically not look like an idiot. So sit down, get comfy, light up your cigarette (Belgium is one of the last central-european hold-outs for allowing smoking in bars) and get ready to order. What would you like miss? Let me take a look at the menu…wait, your beer list is 40 pages long and spiral bound?? Excuse me for a moment while I cry a silent tourist tear. Corona??
Now that I’ve lived through this drama, I have a recommendation. Swallow your pride, pretend you’re semi-confidant, and ask the barman for some help. He’ll laugh at you, but stick to your guns. Bat your eyelashes (this guy is probably 60…it may just work you hot young thing!) and admit there are too many choices. If you are a little bit self-deprecating, you’ll get given something good.
I did find one that was maeve-approved.  Leffe Blond Bier, and some aged made-by-priests beer I cannot remember the name. Go Belgium!

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