When you think of Belgium, beer and chocolate certainly come to mind. But how about Brussels sprouts? These much-maligned, bite-sized cabbages may have a bad reputation in some quarters, but no self-respecting Christmas dinner table would be complete without them. Many believe they really do come from Brussels. The first written reference to them in Belgium dates back to 1587.
One of the iconic foods of Belgium is waffles, which are sold at street corners across the country. But there are two distinct varieties: First, the Brussels-style waffles, which are rectangular in shape, with a soft texture. The Liege-style waffles (pictured here) are in fact more common in Belgium. Their flavor comes from crunchy bits of caramelized sugar, and they have rounded edges.
Belgium is also famous for its chips, often eaten with a plate of steaming mussels (in season) to create the famous dish of moules-frites. In a country where the price of food can make your eyes water, a simple cone of chips, with a dollop of sauce remains happily affordable, at just 2 euros a time. There are numerous famous Fritkot (chip stands) in Brussels. Just don't call them French fries.
Though the French influence is clear to see in much of Belgium - these crunchy baguettes are on sale in a Brussels bakery. The food labels are always in both French and Flemish to make shops and restaurants accessible to both the French-speaking and Flemish-speaking communities.
The French influence is also in evidence if you step into any patisserie or cake-shop. Here cream-filled éclairs, beautiful fruit tarts and chocolate gateaux are on offer.
Most real Bruxellois avoid the limp and bland supermarket veg and do their shopping instead at the various markets dotted around the city. Here you can often taste before you buy.
Belgium also has a number of other influences on its food culture. Moroccans make up one of the largest immigrant groups in Belgium. These freshly made Moroccan crepes are on sale at a market in the south of the city. They're filled with olives, spicy tagine, couscous and honey to make a delicious - if rather messy - lunch.
When you think of Belgium, you naturally think of beer and chocolate. But the country has a rich and diverse food heritage, with a number of other typical foods ready to tempt visitors.