Coming from… Paris

NAME: Analia Glogowski (31)

BORN IN: Paris, France (raised in Uruguay)

CURRENTLY LIVING IN: Brussels, Belgium

Analia: “I was born in France, raised in Uruguay and been living in Belgium for the past 7 years. These moves have blurred my sense of nationality and for a while I didn’t really know where I belonged anymore. Belgium has given me such a warm welcome that when I travel abroad and am asked where I’m from, I now say ‘from Belgium’. I work with a lot of expats in Brussels but I like to keep my feet on the Belgian scene so I’ve created a blog to bridge those two worlds together: The Brusselsprouts is all about food, music and travel, boasting restaurant reviews, interviews with bands and travel tips.”

How well did you know Belgium before you moved here?

I didn’t know that much, shame on me. As a half-French, I had often heard jokes which made fun of Belgians depicting them as goofy creatures. Nothing furthest from reality, as it turns out.

What’s the biggest difference between your home country and Belgium?

Tough one. If I take France as my home country, I’d say the biggest difference is what I mentioned above: self-perception. The French tend to be more arrogant while some very talented Belgians will blush upon applause. If I take Uruguay as my home country, similarities are aplenty in terms of character but I’d say homogeneity vs. diversity. Uruguayans are a very homogeneous society while Belgians are a sort of patchwork society, for better and for worse.

What surprised you the most after moving here? 

I was in awe of people’s warmth and generosity. I remember getting unasked-for advice from policemen upon my arrival and being amazed by Belgians’ humility. They can be the best in a given art field and still show a tremendous sense of humility, which I couldn’t help but contrast to the French haughtier attitude.

Uruguayans are a very homogeneous society while Belgians are a sort of patchwork society, for better and for worse

What do you like the most about Belgians? Anything you don’t like?

I like the Belgian sense of humour (I mean, have you watched Dikkenek?), their fashion creativity and their music sensitivity. Indeed, most of my favorite bands are Belgian. Deus, Balthazar, Jacle Bow, BRNS and Konoba. You have to check those out!

I don’t like the tension that I have sometimes sensed as a French-speaker in some Flemish parts of the country, where I actualy felt more comfortable speaking in English.

The top 3 things to see or do when in Belgium in your opinion? 

  1. When in Belgium, one shouldn’t miss visiting Ghent, which is just as pretty and picturesque as Brugges but in a more authentic, less smurf-village- kind of way.
  2. A stroll in Antwerp (especially for design lovers) is also a must, with its myriad concept-stores, design cafés and the artsy vibe stemming from every corner. I think it encapsulates a big part of Belgium’s ‘Flemishness’.
  3. In Brussels, a walk in the Marolles flea market is due followed by a cornet of fries from a street fritkot and a beer in Belga, on Flagey square.

What’s your favorite cafe? 

My favorite café is Belga, maybe because it was the first one I ever visited but also because it’s such an institution. It evolves through the day, from breakfast café to work hotspot to apero hour to brunch and back. Locals and foreigners mingle and there’s a good-kid vibe in the air.

What’s your favorite restaurant? 

I love Hortense & Humus! With a Sistine Chapel style ceiling and gold rimmed furniture, H&H is a real treat that serves haute vegetarian cuisine like salt-crust baked swede with roasted Jerusalem artichoke and shiitake mushrooms and chestnut cake topped with poached pears. Behind the project are two super creative people. Matthieu Chaumont is a Botanical Maître of sorts, creating surprising mocktails and cocktails. Think potions made with fennel, turmeric, herbs and high-end spirits. He never stops exploring new flavors and original combinations. Nicolas Decloedt is H&H’s chef and concocts his dishes in harmony with Matthieu’s mixology. His food is plant-based, organic and locally sourced. Most of the herbs and vegetables are grown in the garden and the rest is locally sourced.

My favorite drink is a ‘chose’, literally a ‘thing’. It’a mocktail you can order in many of the capital’s cafes and it consists of grapefruit juice and tonic water, served with a slice of lemon

Favorite Belgian food and drink? 

My favorite drink is a ‘chose’, literally a ‘thing’. It’a mocktail you can order in many of the capital’s cafes such as BelgaBarbeton, Chez Franz… and consists of grapefruit juice and tonic water served with a slice of lemon. Super fresh. Foodwise, being the sweet rascal that I am, I can’t resist the craquelin – that heavenly light brioche with caramelised, lemon marinated sugar cubes.

Favorite Belgian expression? How did you come across it?

The one I can’t stop repeating is a very simple – but oh so satisfying – expression I stole from my Flemish acquaintances : “Maar allez, zeg !” It means something like « Oh, come on ! » And as it so happens, living in Brussels can indeed sometimes challenge one’s patience !

Favorite weird Belgian habit? 

Coming from France, I was somewhat shocked when I first came to Belgium by the casual way shop tenants and ‘strangers’ you interact with in the daily life talk to you… This distinction doesn’t exist in English (fortunately, maybe) but in French, you can choose if you refer to a person with “tu” or “vous” – much more formal and – you could say, distant. The “vous” is used in France with basically anyone who isn’t your friend or close family. In Belgium, I walked into a shop and when the lady said “ça te plaît, chou?” my eyes must have looked like plates. My french lil’ biatch wanted to snap “Nan, mais on se connaît pas, hein!” (I don’t know you!) But I actually came to like this relaxed approach, much less arrogant and more human.

Favorite outdoor attraction? 

I love Brussels’ food markets, from the Parvis de Saint-Gilles to Place Flagey’s all the way through the Chatelain. Each day has its particular street market and you can do your groceries and hit a food truck to sample Belgian and international delicacies like stoemp, tacos, pistolets and ice pops.

I like the Belgian sense of humour, their fashion creativity and their music sensitivity. Indeed, most of my favorite bands are Belgian

What advice would you give to anyone visiting (or moving to) Belgium?

Bring an umbrella? Hahaha no, seriously though, do. Also, don’t be afraid to go and talk to people, they’re usually super friendly and will give you tips on hidden gems and underground happenings you might otherwise not hear about. When in Brussels, try to catch a local concert in the Ancienne Belgique and beware of the touristy restaurants around Grand Place.

“I would you like to share you 15 minutes of fame with…”

Bel Mundo! It’s one of those initiatives that show the Belgian warmth of heart. It’s the very definition of a sustainable restaurant and it’s just brilliant. The food is delicious and the menu changes constantly. The dishes are prepared with seasonal vegetables from the organic 1500m² backyard garden and using unsold items from Delhaize supermarket in an effort of zero food waste. The furniture is made of recycled wood pallets crafted in the attaining carpentry workshop and the place is staffed by trained long-term unemployed people, in a social rehabilitation policy. And on top of the scrumptious meals and the super friendly staff, prices are super affordable.

Written By

Freelance journalist & copywriter, vegetarian, photography lover, passionate reader, globe-trotter, aspiring everything.