Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spread the love



My first experience with Belgian cuisine wasn't with delicious Belgian waffles or chocolate (or Brussels sprouts or Belgian endive, ha ha), it was with the uniquely Belgian delicacy known as the sandwich spread. I walked into a sandwich shop, and instead of seeing trays of sliced ham, turkey, chicken, roast beef, and cheeses, I saw containers filled with orange, yellow, and pinkish substance that looked a lot like tuna or chicken salad, but gooier.

Fortunately for the reputation of this fine Belgian delicacy, the sandwich spread tastes a lot better than it looks. Apparently, the secret's in the sauce . . . er, mayonnaise.

I'm told that Belgians love mayonnaise. It's their favorite condiment. They eat it with their fried potatoes like Americans do with ketchup (by the way, they're BELGIAN Fries, not French Fries, because they were invented here in Belgium: They call 'em pommes frites here.) Anyway, mayonnaise is the key ingredient in these spreads. Take some mayonnaise, add some other stuff (chicken, fish, spices, used car, whatever), and blend it all together in a food processor, and . . . voila! The famous Belgian sandwich spread.

There are probably a hundred different types of sandwich spreads, but here are the ones I've tried so far:
  • Pita pikant (I have no idea exactly what this is, but it's tasty)
  • Thun pikant (spicy tuna)
  • Mexikanische kip (Mexican chicken, with corn and tomatoes)
  • Curry kip (curry chicken)
  • Kip naturelle (plain chicken - after eating all the spicy spreads, I didn't like this one too much)
You don't have to go to a sandwich shop to get the goods. You can get everything you need from your local market! The photo above shows the variety to be found at the market down the street from my hotel.

To make a sandwich with Belgian spread, just slice a nice piece of baguette and "spread the spread" in the same manner as you would for, say, peanut butter. Or Nutella. Then, if you'd like some vegetables, you may choose from the following: sliced dill pickles, pearl onions, and/or shredded carrots. (Sorry, no lettuce or tomato.) Gently place the veggies on top of the spread, close the bread, and . . . voila!

I'm sure by now you're convinced enough to make your own Belgian spread sandwiches. Bon appetit! :-)