Flemish people love good food more than anything. The cities are teeming with cafés and bistros, which often stay open until the early hours, where you can try hundreds of Flemish beers. The quality of restaurants is generally very high and most cities offer cuisine from every part of the world. Flemish cuisine itself is comparable to French cuisine, with the addition of Mediterranean and Asian tastes in recent years.
Flemings value their traditions but also like to go on a culinary exploration in one of the 16,000 restaurants and brasseries. Between hotchpotch or stew with French fries and sushi and sashimi, everything is within reach in Flanders. For a pleasant evening out or for a celebration among friends, Flanders has something for every budget.
Flemings enjoy a drink and are large consumers of champagne and wine, although it is probably true to say that beer is more popular than wine. Flanders is home to one of the largest international brewery groups, InBev. Some of the world’s most famous beers are brewed in Flanders, including Stella Artois, Leffe and Duvel. But Flanders has so much more to offer than just its mass-produced beers. Lots of smaller breweries mean that Flanders is rightly famed for a variety of typical regional beers, whose popularity continues to grow. These include Geuze, Kriek (made from cherries) and Lambik, not to mention Trappist and Abbey beers. There are only six Trappist beers in the world and three of them are brewed in Flanders: St. Sixtus (Westvleteren), Achel and Westmalle. The other three (Orval, Chimay and Rochefort) are brewed in the Walloon region of Belgium.
Flanders is also known for its genever, a type of schnapps. Some seventy old distilleries provide a rich variety of flavours. Hasselt is renowned as the centre of the genever industry and is home to the genever museum.
Flemings have a sweet tooth. On a normal Sunday morning, most Flemings queue up at their favourite bakery for croissants, rolls, tarts and pastries. Regional specialities mean that the assortment at most bakers is overwhelming. Most Flemish chocolate makers sell homemade praline bonbons with a fresh cream filling in the splendid tradition of Flemish chocolate.