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American breakfast? + other food questions

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Philadelphia, PA
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American breakfast? + other food questions

I'll be going on my 6th trip to Belgium in January, and am moving over there permanently in July (marrying a Belgian!) and while I adore the food, the one thing I already miss about America is going out to breakfast with friends and family on a cold winter morning and getting some American style pancakes.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying they're better ;-) I actually prefer the crepe-like Belgian ones (especially the way my future mother in law makes them, with apple slices!). And I never really liked the taste of 'diner' ones over here. It's the experience, it holds a lot of nostaligic memories for me. I'm a somewhat accomplished cook, but pancakes are the one thing I cannot make (if they rise, they're black, if they don't turn black, they're what people affectionately call lardrocks), and it's just nice sometimes to be served.

So, anyway, my fiance has never eaten out much. He was born and raised in Antwerp, but has limited food-likes and is extremely unhelpful when it comes to restaurants. He has no idea if there exists one that is open for breakfast, and that serves American style pancakes. I've given up all hope for real maple syrup, unless I smuggle some in, but just the pancakes by themselves would be lovely when I'm homesick.

Also, as an American, I'm used to cooking all different kinds of cuisine. I am having a lot of trouble finding Asian ingredients, but have heard tell of a Chinatown in Antwerp proper (fiance lives in Hoboken). Does anyone have an address? Also, is there a Mexican/Spanish area? I would be overjoyed if I could easily find things like cilantro, jasmine rice, chili powder, even sesame oil and water chesnuts.

Thank you for your help!

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

Every supermarket I know in Brussels carries authentic maple syrup, imported from Canada, so you do not need to "smuggle" this in (and in any case as it is not prohibited, no smuggling would be involved if you brought it with you).

As for American-style breakfast pancakes, I would guess American chain hotels like the Holiday Inn would be your best bet.

There is definitely no Mexican/Spanish area of Antwerp but Mexican food products (often imported from the U.S.) can be found in many supermarkets, or there is a Mexican-American store called Graré in Wilrijk. Cilantro is called coriander here and is widely available. Jasmine rice (Thai) and sesame oil are available in my local supermarket in Brussels, I would have thought chili powder (Indian blends or try pili pili) was also available and possibly water chestnuts or else you can definitely find these in a Chinese supermarket. The Chinese area of Antwerp is not far from the central station, e.g. Van Wesenbekestraat.

Philadelphia, PA
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2. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

Thanks for your reply!

I've been to several supermarkets in the Antwerp area, as well as little produce shops, and have yet to find cilantro/coriander (that's what we call the dried spice, so I would have recognized it) - I even had a hard time finding blackberries last summer! And the main chains sell like 2 kinds of rice, and one isn't even "real", but the instant uncle ben's...it's a little disheartening at times :-)

Good to know about Brussels and the maple syrup! I haven't been able to find it in the Antwerp region. I've had "maple flavored candy syrup" pressed on me, but it's totally not the same thing. I was being humorous about the smuggling ;-) I "smuggle" vast quantities of Devos Lemmens mayo with egg into the US all the time for my family ;-)

Thank you thank you thank you for telling me about Graré! The fiance works in Wilrijk. That'll be handy. And the directions to Chinatown. Most helpful.

It sounds like Brussels has a much bigger selection of international foods than what I've seen in Antwerp. Since it's so close I'll have to make the habit of a food shopping trip once a month or so :-)

Thanks again!

Brussels, Belgium
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3. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

For address of Graré (it doesn't seem to have its own website) and some other interesting information for you, see beyondmarketing.com/eindhoven/food_eating_b.…

Incidentally, while this is about (un)available foods in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, I am astonished about the remark concerning baking soda and baking powder, both are widely available in Brussels and I sometimes wonder whether people are not just looking in the wrong places.

If you come to Brussels, the Delhaize next to Boileau pre-metro station and not far from Thieffry metro station stocks American items like Crisco, Oreos, Arm & Hammer baking soda, pancake mix.. (and maple syrup). There is a big Chinese supermarket and a Thai supermarket in rue Ste. Catherine behind the Macdonalds opposite the Bourse (stock exchange).

As regards coriander, I was talking about the fresh stuff, but I also use dried coriander for Middle Eastern dishes, again from one of my local supermarkets (GB Contact in rue des Tongres, near Mérode, and a small Delhaize around the corner in Ave. G. Henri), I am sure you could find these in larger supermarkets which they must have somewhere in Antwerp. If you have a car, you might also want to explore the British supermarket Stonemanor in Everberg (between Leuven and Brussels), which stocks a wide range of Indian, Thai, Mexican etc. foodstuffs, many of the latter from the U.S.: www.stonemanor.uk.com/Home.htm.

For questions relating to expat living in Belgium rather than visiting here as a tourist, I can recommend the Q&A section of the xpats website run by the publishers of The Bulletin, see www.xpats.com/cgi-bin/interactive/qa.cgi

Antwerpen, Belgium
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4. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

I guess you didn't do a thorough search in Antwerpen. There are Spanish, Italian, kosher, Asian, etc. food stores. The Sun Wah supermarket in the centre is the largest Asian supermarket in Belgium. People come from all over Belgium and the Netherlands because of the huge selection.

You can find fresh blackberries in every GB or Delhaize supermarket in the season. Dried coriander is amongst the 50 varieties of dried herbs. Also fresh coriander if that's what you want.

Only 2 kinds of rice? Duh! You really didn't look well or you went into a very small local shop in Hoboken.

We don't like maple syrup but our local GB warehouse sells it.

As for breakfasts in the city: no problem. There are lots of places in Antwerpen where you can go for breakfast. Farine's Food, Hangar 41, Het Dagelijks Brood, Pata Negra, Pool Planet, Zuiderterras, Horta, Carrousel, ... to name a few. American pancakes? Maybe you should realize you're in Belgium, not in the States. If you want American pancakes, it shouldn't be too difficult to bake them yourself.

Philadelphia, PA
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5. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

There's no need to be nasty. And no, there were no fresh blackberries in either Delhaize or GB this summer. Not in Hoboken. I did however find some in Blankenberge. And I apologize to you for being handicapped and severely limited in mobility - I can only go where I am taken. Sorry I didn't do a "thorough" enough search for you in my wheelchair. Or maybe you're one of the many Belgians who like to roll their eyes and sigh as I slowly try to search.

So much for the much touted friendliness of Trip Advisor.

Antwerpen, Belgium
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6. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

How am I supposed to know that you're handicapped? You didn't mention that before. As for the supermarkets, even Hoboken has a large (red label) Delhaize supermarket. It's on Heidestraat. Also Wilrijk has a large Delhaize. You can find a large GB supermarket on Sint-Bernardsesteenweg in Hoboken.

If blackberries are not available right away they can always order them for you. Blackberries, raspberries, etc. are expensive over here and many supermarkets only order them on special request. The same for a turkey on Thanksgiving.

Antwerp
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7. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

I've read this forum with interest.

I'm married with a Philipina, so we go a lot to Van Wezenbeeckstraat, because there are a lot of shops with every foodstuf of the world. (LOTS of different kinds of rice, for example)

I don't think Sparrow is fair with here comment: how could the expert know that you cannot go there because you're handicapped?

But also, in a good big supermarket (GB, Delhaize, etc) you should be able to find most of the things you are looking for; why not ask the staff if you cannot find it ?

Antwerp
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8. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

PS: Sparrow, I think your comment on 'most Belgians rolling their eyes' is nasty too. Most of the Belgians are not like that.

Antwerp
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9. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

Sparrow,

at Graré in Wilrijk they sell Aunt Jemina pancake mix. So it really should not be difficult to make them yourself. Also, they sell canned blueberries because it's true that we do not have them in the store year round.

Yet, I'm afraid at Graré you will most likely be unable to enter with a wheelchair, it's a shop that's really full full full and almost no space to move around. So I guess your husband-to be will have to go and get you the stuff you need.

I have to agree with the posts above that in Antwerp you can really find everything once you know where to look for it. The maple syrup is on sale in EVERY supermarket and on top of that there is the chain Oil & Vinegar who import their own maple syrup and as all their products are of excellent quality i'm sure the maple will be perfect. (www.oilvinegar.com for adresses). The streets around St Jansplein are packed with all kind or Moroccan and Turkish shops, some Spanish and some Portuguese shops, there is a Mexican café just North of St Jansplein on the Leien so they can tell you there where you find mexican shops.

There is a very good Spanish shop in the Zirkstraat and in the Van wesebeekstraat are plenty of Asian stores(and yes, they come from Brussels to antwerp to shop here...) The Sun Wah is as said the biggest and I buy my sesam oil there as well as waterchestnuts and chili powder.

Jasmine rice they sell in virtually every shop in Antwerp, even in the Aldi !!

breakfast : we go out for breakfast every saturday and sunday and the city is packed with terrific places for this and indeed i never see the american pancakes on the menu. BUT if you speak with the woman who owns the Farine Food (Vlaamse Kaai 40) I'm 300% sure she'll make them for you for your next visit.

As to your remark concerning the supermarkets and their poor range : every Delhaize in Belgium has a basic range that's the same but the rest depends on their clients. The Delhaize on the Plantin Moretuslei has f.e. lots of koosjer food because they are in the center of the Jewish area (I never saw those products in another Delhaize in the country) the one on het Zuid has a huge range of 1 portion-microwavable food (because it's largely frequented by singles or young couple without children) and so on. But most of them do have a standard 'world food' range...

good luck and I hope you enjoy living in the nicest city of the world.

b

brussels
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10. Re: American breakfast? + other food questions

i am absolutely astonished at the seeming un availabilty of Coriander seeds and fresh in antwerp. These things are basic staples and are in every spice section of every medium to large del haize or Carrefour/Gb i have ever been in in brussels.

Thee is very often a small selection of fresh herbs in pots,things like coriander, basil etc usually near the fresh veg section.

All other "exotic" satuff is usaully grouped under the international banner which will include mexican ,japanese, kosher, african and brit and us packeged food.

Fresh herbs are very often avialable in the many ethnis type /night stores.