Locals flock to Belgium fest

2019-11-19 06:00
There was a huge turnout at this year’s Taste of Belgium festival at the Belgian Embassy in Newlands on Saturday 16 November. PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen

There was a huge turnout at this year’s Taste of Belgium festival at the Belgian Embassy in Newlands on Saturday 16 November. PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen

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There is much more to Belgium than beer and waffles – but it certainly is a mighty good place to start.

And after attending last Saturday’s Taste of Belgium, a market-style celebration of all things Belgian, it is clear that more than 1 500 Capetonians whole-heartedly agree.

The Consul of Belgium in Cape Town, Karl Stouthuysen, says the event is held annually to introduce South Africans to Belgium.

“We are a small country with about 11 million residents but we have so much to offer,” Stouthuysen said. “About 10 000 Belgians live right here in South Africa.”

According to the website Focus on Belgium (www.focusonbelgium.be), the country occupies an important position on the economic chessboard.

“It is ranked 12th country in the world for the export of merchandise (WTO-2014 Report) and is a favourite destination for investors. Every year, billions of euros of foreign direct investment are made in Belgium,” the website reads.

“Belgians like to enjoy life and make sure they do so,” the website reads.

Well, if last weekend’s festivities are anything to go by Belgians do like to have fun.

Organised by the Belgian Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Kingdom of Belgium and SAB-InBev, this year’s festival was hosted at the Belgian Embassy in Newlands.

Although the event is in its eighth-year, this is the first time it was held at the embassy. Whether it was the beautiful grounds, the swimming pool open to children or the smell of waffles, it drew the crowds.

Judging by the long queues at the food stands, it seemed the many traders might have gotten more than they bargained for. But, in true Belgian style, they buckled down and pushed out those waffles and bitterballen at breakneck-speed.

Food on sale included Flemish stew, Belgian fries, cheese croquettes, ‘moules frites’ and mussels with mustard mayonnaise sauce.

For those with a sweet tooth there was a selection of chocolate, fine pastries and tarts. And to wash it all down, authentic Belgian beers.

The flea market, organised by the Belgica Club (the club for all Belgians and their friends), had some great steals, including used board games at R10 each.

For the kids, there was a play area and pool to keep them entertained. And if that didn’t put smiles on their faces, the strawberries dipped in chocolate did. A sunset concert by the Nomadic Orchestra at 17:00 concluded the day’s fun and festivities.

And even though Arnold Schwarzenegger hails from Austria and not Belgium, his well-known quote applies: “I’ll be back.” Next year.

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