Is Belgium Heaven? Fritessaus, Frites, Fries And Death To Ketchup!


Bij Chez Papg: Belgian Fresh Frites
Ladies and gentlemen let me say I've seen heaven. I've been there and back and can tell you it's full of French fries and covered in sauce. First, a couple things you may or may not know. French Fries which are called "frites" [free'tz] in Belgium and France are served in a cone like wrapper generally with your choice of sauces. (fritessaus) Then they give you tiny little wooden forks to slowly enjoy each and every frite, as if to control consumption and prevent overdosing. The traditional sauce is a thick mayonnaise like substance with a tangy lemon bite. What's more, is it's really, really good. No totally amazing. No like, I'd commit unthinkable acts of cruelty (or kindness) for this sauce.

There was moment when we entered Bij Chez Papg friture in Brussels when I realized I wasn't alone in the world. I reflected on the pain and anguish over the years I had suffered, being mocked and ridiculed by friends and family for my odd habit of dipping fries in ranch or tartar sauce, anything but that red sauce. Ketchup was always a last resort for me, which seemed almost un-American to those who I grew up with. Yet I felt it was more treasonous to the poor fries themselves to douse them candied tomatoes, in (gasp) ketchup. (Don't get me started on ketchup on hot-dogs. Ewww...) My whole life I had been searching for others just like me, and now I had found them. "Oh marvelous frites and your little sauces with your petite little forks!!!" What a wonderful day it was. "Glorious joy!" Here I was, discovering normality in a foreign country filled with street upon street of restaurants that served French fries as their main course. Whose only competitor was the Belgian waffle vendor or the chocolateur, and yet despite everyone practically drinking calorie explosive fritessaus and hot chocolate, everyone here was fit, and skinny. If this isn't heaven then I don't know what is.
Frites from Stockel Square: Our soriee.

So here's the problem. Until I can figure out a way to get a job in Brussels- I'm stuck in the States. (We shall call this penance.) There will be no fritessaus, and no happiness for Livvy. In fact she will continue to have to fight with the former inmate turned drive-thru worker at Wendy's just to get an occasional packet of ranch sauce. "Lifes a beach" for Americans, said our Flemish accented friend outside of the friture, as we smiled, signifying we understood he meant the exact opposite.

No every time I walk down the condiment aisle of the grocery store in the U.S., I'll probably just cry at the sadness of the situation. In fact every time I'm offered ketchup with my fries I'll probably get tearful, then crawl into the fetal position and pray that someday when this hellacious life is over, that I find my true reward in the kingdom of the frites somewhere in Brussels.

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