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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

Food Glorious Food!

Blog every day in May, day 14: Share your favourite recipe. Talk about the best cocktail you’ve ever tasted. Or maybe share your fave restaurant experience. Lets talk about food!

When I was 14, a great meal consisted of a pan of water, a stock cube, some brussel sprouts or chopped up leak, and (wait for it – with your vomit bags at the ready) some frozen fish fingers, all boiled up together to one very smelly, textureless mass. This is one of the main reasons why Hanno won’t let me cook. Ever. Fear of the boiled fish finger.

When I was 18 and at university, I do not remember what I ate at all. I do remember bringing a lot of it up again though (and no, not because I was drunk – I never drank a drop of alcohol at university). I’m not proud.

When I was 22 and living on my own for the first time, my two main foodstuffs were Paxo stuffing mix (made up with water, not straight out of the box) and pasta cooked in gravy (of the “made from granules” type). When I had fish fingers though, I would grill them. I was reaching new heights of sophistication.

When I was 26, I married Hanno and started to eat proper food. Hanno was brought up by a father that cooked (and cooked really really well): eating badly was never going to be on the agenda. I remember, even at university, Hanno having a reputation for buying the fanciest, most expensive sausages when everyone else was living off no-frills tins of baked beans. I’m fairly convinced a big chunk of his student loan was spent on posh bangers. When we were first married, I was a vegetarian (I’ve never liked the taste or texture of meat that much and it was easier to tell people I was vegetarian than it was to explain what I was ok eating and what might make me retch) so Hanno used to cook two meals every night. No, you’re right, I don’t deserve him.

When I was 27, we moved to Belgium. I was suddenly surrounded by some of the most delicious food in the world ever. I decided not to be a vegetarian anymore so I could taste more of it. Belgian specialities include chocolate, waffles, moules’ frites (mussels and fries), sugar bread, spice biscuits and asparagus. But Belgium’s real speciality is its sheer number of just mind-blowingly good restaurants. There are probably more than a hundred restaurants within a 5 minute walk from where we live. And most of them are excellent (and really friendly too). Brussels is a foodie’s heaven. Oh! And the bread! Bread is one of my favorite foods in the whole wide world. It would be one of my desert island items: a delicious, freshly baked loaf. And in Belgium I have been spoiled for choice. Our little local boulangerie is called Charli (our son was not named after it, but we don’t mind if you think he was) and they make some of the best bread known to mankind. If you come to visit us, we’ll take you there for an espresso and a couque. You’ll never leave.

I’m now 36 and I haven’t been near a fish finger in years.

16 May 2013 - 3:00 AM Ingrid - Oh my gosh. I've laughed through your food journey. I'm glad you've arrived at the least to a safe place. It sounds delicious there. I'm glad the cook found his audience and the audience her cook. Mashed up fish sticks huh? :)

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