Belgian and Romanian cuisines have put up impressive fights on The World Cup of Food, and choosing one over the other has been probably our most difficult final choice to date. We suppose that can be expected given that this is the first matchup of the second level of the qualifying competition and matches should only get more closely contested as we proceed.
One of Belgium’s most popular dishes is its fish soup waterzooi (recipe follows). Traditionally made from burbot taken from the Lys and Scheldt rivers in and around the city of Ghent, to where the dish’s origins can be traced, nowadays the soup is made from any firm-fleshed white fish, especially pike, carp, cod, or halibut. Variations exist that include mussels, clams, or shrimp, and the adaptation that replaces seafood entirely with white chicken meat is popular as well.
After reading the prose of cooks and poets, consulting the great culinary tomes of the cuisines, trekking great distances to the tops of mountains to meet enigmatic gurus, and most importantly making the signature dishes of Belgium and Scotland in our own kitchen (three of those four actually happened), we with great regret must eliminate one of these great cuisines from the 2014 World Cup of Food.
The cuisine of Belgium reflects both its rich agricultural and seafood resources and its close ties with its Western European neighbors, especially France, the Netherlands, and Germany. Signature Belgian culinary contributions include French Fries (pomme frites locally, which are likely Belgian and not French in origin), over eight hundred varieties of beer, and a tradition of fine chocolates. The beefy, beer-based stew carbonade flamande (recipe follows) and the creamy fish stew waterzooi are popular Belgian plates, but if there is a Belgian national dish it is probably moules-frites, mussels steamed with wine, onions, and celery and served with fries.