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Cappuccino (with house cookies) from ANNA

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived in Leuven, Belgium to settle in before commencing a Master of Cultural Studies program at KU Leuven, Belgium’s oldest and largest university. Although Leuven is a relatively small town, the university culture allows for a bustling cultural scene, complete with many charming cafes and restaurants. Leuven, also boasts the title of birthplace of Stella Artois brewing.

Yes, several items of obvious popularity abound: We have beer, beer, and more beer, enough chocolate to give pause to an absolute cocoa fiend- such as myself, and so many frites-the fatty cousin of the french fry. Leuven is a place where the following sign is unironically posted on the entrance to a local shop:

IMG_8112 I imagine the sentiment is something like: We applaud the enjoyment of snacks, but kindly finish them before entering the store. Alsjeblieft.

Upon arrival, a few surprising culinary trends became quickly apparent: Belgians adore Italian food- especially pasta. There are many quick Italian options akin to Chipotle in their set-ups, but with a choice of extra mozzerella or basil rather than guac and salsa. Stewy Flemish fare (which is basically any type of soft cooked meat with something creamy on it) is a given, along with the aforementioned frites, beer, and chocolate. We’ll save chocolate for another time. Let’s just say I am doing extensive ‘research’ at the moment.

The unexpected, however, came along with the coffee. In Leuven, far be it from anyone to serve you a coffee and expect you to suffer the duration of the drink without a snack. I am thrilled at this cultural difference. This is what I have always wanted without realizing it. You don’t ask for it. It doesn’t cost extra, nor are the prices inflated. It’s just a surprise little treat. Just for you…and everyone else. Locals are clearly unphased by this luxury, but for me, the novelty is unending. I have ordered coffee here and actually told the waiter it wasn’t my order because the little chocolate croissant which came along with it had to be a pastry that someone ordered, but no!


Vangrootloon’s house coffee


Werf Koffie at De Werf

The “Werf koffie” pictured above, listed on the menu as just coffee, wins the title of most gratuitous coffee snack of all. I was baffled when I was given an entire thermos of coffee accompanied by a container full of chocolate biscuit sandwiches, cream, sugar, and a side of whipped cream… all for €2.60!

Me, every day now: “What’s this? What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes!”Image result for what's this gif nightmare before christmas

I assumed my greatest challenge this year would be writing a Master’s thesis, but I am afraid it might be resisting the urge to eat every single thing. Follow my progress by checking in on Very Voracious, or check out my Instagram.

Keep snacking!