Of Brel, Belgians and Boudin

Being married to a Bruxelloise, I get occasional reminders that I live in Brel land (he lived just around the corner from us in Schaerbeek). Yesterday evening we ate black and white sausage (boudin noir et blanc) for dinner, together with apple sauce and stoemp. ‘They used to serve this a lot in the Brussels’ bistros,’ said my wife. ‘It was called entre ciel et terre.’ (‘Between the sky and the earth.’) I could just imagine Jacques singing a song with that title.

Talking of singing, we got to Mamma Mia! this weekend. Piers Brosnan? Oh, well.

We spent the afternoon at a family bash, to celebrate the 80th birthday of one of my wife’s aunts. The event was held in a restored barn in Upigny. I like the Belgians immensely and such occasions give further evidence of all that is best about them: convivial, self-deprecating, good-humoured, generous, hospitable and, above all, friendly. I found myself sitting beside an interesting lady, Sandrine Dixson-Declève, who works on sustainable development issues – a policy field that has been dear to my heart as a Director in the EESC. We had a good chat about the provision of reliable and independent scientific advice. Later, there was slide show and we watched generations of the Bondue family – all beautiful – slide past.

Back home, I tried to help my son with his maths homework. My daughter had to help me to help him. ‘I think I overtook you in maths about five years ago,’ said she in that winning way that children have.

1 Comment

  1. Claudine

    It is nice to hear that you like the Belgians and their culture as it is not easy to be Belgian these days. It is in fact a strange nationality, there are a lot of things we like about our country but in the meantime there are others that we would like to forget (ah, les problèmes communautaires…)and I think we do not have a strong sense of belonging to a nation like the Italians, French, or British people. Belgian is a country without glamour and glitter and still it is a little gem but it takes time and a little effort to discover it. Lots of foreigners who live here, stay in their own circle and finally they never encounter the reality of Belgian life. And many foreigners think we are dull and uninteresting because they see us as a little rainy country, full of contradiction and of misunderstandings and they do not see it is as a place with fantastic culture and where life is agreable and easy, and “où les gens ne se prennent pas pour Dieu le père”.

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