Andddd the Casiedilla is back! After conquering Brussels, Brugge, Amsterdam and Berlin, I have fappily (fat and happily) landed back in my little pueblo. And so begins the Holiday Series. Part 1: Christmas in Brussels.
And what a magical Christmas it t’was. Marked by new friends, beautiful scenery, and FOOD. Lots, and lots and lots of food.
Of course, I will tell you about about all of the incredible Belgium food I ate from the infamous Christmas Markets, and make you extremely jealous with my delishpics. However, something far more magical happened this past Christmas Eve. Cliffhanger…
First thing’s first. The Christmas Markets. It’s seriously like Disney World for really hungry people. Picture this. You are walking through the magically lit up streets of Brussels, and your nose gets a big waft of a smoky, char-grilled BBQ smell. Like a hot dog, but with personality. That’s the Bratwurst calling to you, with the help of its very important sidekick the caramelized onion, beckoning you from every which direction. Sold.You then take a step further to be greeted by the smell of freshly fried frits, or french fries, served to you in an ever-so-appetizing paper cone, complete with a rainbow of sauces. Your bratwurst obviously needs a friend, so….you get the frits. But wait. Fresh oysters? Those aren’t that filling…when suddenly you are tantalized by WAFFLES. Everywhere. And chocolate covered oliebol. And finally… appears the REALLY REALLY FRIENDLY chocolate merengue man. Who just happened to give me some free “samples”… And don’t forget, all the while this is going on you are holding a hot n’ steamy cup of Vin Chaud, or Belgium mulled wine (a mandatory accessory at the markets).
Ok, so at that point I decided I really like Belgium. About 37 pieces of chocolate and 7 pounds later (or 4 kgs for most of the world), something even more magical happened. Finally squeezing myself through the end of the Christmas markets, my four new friends and I found ourselves standing in the center of Brussels. The Christmas Eve sun was setting, and (FIRST) this happened…
And the music stops. THEN.
Maybe it was Santa’s helpers spreading their magical Christmas spirit of giving. IDK. But this adorable Arabic couple was staring at my friends and I like they wanted to ask us something. We then realized they were holding a camera. So we used our common sense and friendly intuition and asked them if they wanted us to take a picture of them…”Yes, yes, yes, yes!” The wife replied with the biggest, warmest smile and a sigh of relief. So we took the pic, got into some friendly (very broken) conversation, and the next thing I know the couple is giving us kisses and hugs. They then invite us to their pâtisserie, or pastry shop, right around the corner! Can I get a helllllll yeaa. I really do love Christmas…
Thirty minutes later, we meet them at their shop. And holy baklava, I thought I had died and came back to Turkish Delight heaven. Their little family owned pastry shop, conveniently located in the center of Brussels, was the most beautifully scrumptious thing I had ever seen.
They lead us into the back, where they set up five perfect place setting for the five of our friends, complete with a setting of coffee and a HUGE platter of pastries. I never thought I’d say this, but I almost regretted eating half of the country of Belgium before…
But no fear, always more room for bakLOVEin.
The whole family comes out of hiding from behind the scenes of the store, pulls up some more chairs, and starts talking to us like they’ve known us for years. Heck, with the questions I was getting I felt like I was their daughter back home from college. We all sat and talked for what must have been over an hour, characterized by a mix of (very) broken English, big hand gestures, pointing to food, eating the food, and finally lots of hugs, smiles and pinches of the cheek.
Oh, and a final fun fact: Apparently in Syria, its not one, not two, but THREE kisses of the cheek. Now, that’s a lotta bak-LOVE-a.
Lesson #1 of the Holiday Series: When you spread the love (and take pictures of adorable Syrian couples), the love comes back. Often, in the form of food.
If you find yourself in Belgium, make a pit stop at Pâtisserie Rose de Damas. If you do, say hello to my surrogate Christmas family for me, and most importantly, eat lots of baklava.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Holiday Travel Series.
Comment below and share where YOU wandered to this Christmas! What Christmaslicious foods made your pants button pop? Hungry sharing is Christmas caring!
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