Brussels: Beer, Chocolate & Waffles

The sweet sticky smell of waffles permeates the air. The promise of frites, chocolate and beer is everywhere. I must be in Brussels. I thought I knew a waffle, I’ve certainly had my fair share but this was no comparison. A yeasted delight coated with sugar even while it bakes, before it is lathered in whipped cream (or chocolate, or caramel, or strawberries, or…you get the idea – check out the pic). Hot, crispy and yet still moist, it was almost downright carnal.

It isn’t just the culinary delicacies that brought me to Belgium, although all one really has to do is say ‘chocolate’, and my ears perk up like a dog that has just heard the word ‘treat’. Brussels has a lively art scene, and it isn’t without humor. For some reason they take great delight in statues of piddling children. The most famous is Mannikin Pis. A little boy just off Grand Place stands overlooking a tiny square happily peeing into a fountain. And just for fun, he is often dressed in different costumes. I had the particular good fortune to see him dressed like a witch. Though I have heard his Superman costume is just as popular. I have to wonder who is in charge of his wardrobe? Is that a paid job? And how does one get experience to become the dresser of Mannikin Pis?

Jannikin Pis is harder to find. For some reason, a statue of a peeing girl isn’t as popular. The allure of the penis is apparently multicultural. But I persevered and found the squatting child just down the alley from the celebrated Delirium Café (so prolific in beer it is in the Guinness Book of World Records for its selection). While the statute of the little boy is in an airy square, the little girl is at the end of an alley locked behind a gate. But her attitude is not dampened by this apparent display of secondary status. In fact she looks particularly delighted while she squats and piddles into the fountain.


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