Three smacking kisses, an obsession with fries with more options for sauces than one could ever try and an grotesk language dispute: Absurdity is omnipresent in Belgium.
If a French-speaking suspect is guilty of something in Anderlecht, he must answer to a French-speaking judge in Brussels. But if the incident takes place 300 metres further in the municipality of Dilbeek, then he has to talk to a Dutch-speaking judge, who incidentally sits in the same corridor of the court building. All the statements made by the French-speaking defendant must then be translated into Dutch by an interpreter. And – here’s the kicker – when the defendant, at the end of the lengthy procedure, applies for a trial in French, then everything has to be translated back into the language in which the statement was originally made.
3 languages – 1 dispute
The bilingualism of Belgium is assuming ridiculous dimensions. And is if this were not enough there are 74.000 Belgian inhabitants speaking German as their official language. That makes education hard: students in Flanders have to be taught French and German in school before they learn English. However the French-speaking part of the country has a different solution for this problem: Most of the Wallonian do hardly speak English– not to talk about Dutch or German.
But the weird language system in the capital of Europe has also its advantages. One example is certainly the most beautiful and important Belgian word I know. It is „Beeskes“ – a combination of the French „baisers“ (kisses) and the ubiquitous Flemish-Dutch diminutive „-ke“. There are always many Beeskes in Belgium. (Three per person, by the way, always three!)
Belgium and its fries
Another thing that connects the two (or three) parts of Belgium are fries. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside”, that’s how good fries have to be. Belgians agree on that: best freshly cut, with the large 13mm knife that produces the typical thick fries. And the potato must of course be the Bintje ones – just the right amount of starch. This delicacy only disappoints vegetarians as it is baked twice in beef fat.
The possession with fries is hard to imagine for foreigners. At every corner – no matter how small the town is – you can find a fries place. All of them do additionally offer a huge amount of unusual dips such as Andalouse or Curry-Ketchup. If you want to make friends in Belgium better do not mention that the snack is actually called “French” fries.
Three languages, three kisses and a love for fries: Little Belgium has a lot of absurdities to offer. And yet the country immediately casts a spell on you. And one thing is for sure: it never gets boring there.