Destination: Ghent
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Food and Drink

Each inhabitant of Ghent drinks an average of 114 litres of beer a year, understandable when there is so much choice. Ghent is no place for teetotallers but those who like food will enjoy their stay.


Although nearly all tourists are told that waterzooi is the local dish par excellence you will seldom smell the aroma of this nourishing dish in a Ghent house. Because the Leie became so polluted, the fish in this souplike stew was replaced by chicken. Furthermore, since a Ghent smelter caused a dioxin scandal in the country and people began to suspect the quality of the chicken, they have called the dish rotzooi (garbage) rather than waterzooi (casserole). Chicken is gradually regaining consumers' confidence but most restaurants still make their casserole with (imported) fish.

Tierenteyn mustard

Dijon mustard has a formidable rival in Tierenteyn mustard from Ghent. There are some people who pull a face if their ham has been dunked in a pot of Tierenteyn mustard, it makes others sneeze, but people who like strong flavours swear by this blend of Canadian, Ethiopian and Indian mustard seeds. What makes this different from other mustards is that the skins of the mustard seeds are not removed before the mustard is prepared. The Egyptians used mustard as an aphrodisiac, which is a nice bonus for some. You can find Ferdinand Tierenteyn's shop in the Groentenmarkt.

Kwak beer

Not for softies. The bottom of a Kwak glass is rounded so that there comes a point when all the beer rushes (kwakt in Dutch) into your mouth. The beer is actually named after the coachman Pauwel Kwak who designed the wooden frame that supports the glass. That meant that while he was working he did not need to keep hold of his glass the whole time. Because glasses like that are quite expensive, in the café Dulle Griet you will be asked to give up a shoe as a deposit. The shoe is then hung on the ceiling until your glass is returned empty and in one piece. Remember to wear clean socks when you have an evening out; your fellow drinkers will be eternally grateful. (Dulle Griet, Vrijdag markt).


It is a misunderstanding that needs to be corrected that coffee is particularly popular in southern Europe. On the contrary, the Swedes drink a massive 12kg per person per year, while the Italians are nowhere near a place on the podium. Antwerp is the world's most important coffee port and there are 140 coffee factories in the country. Belgium is a world leader in coffee preparation and for that reason alone you can drink Belgian coffee with confidence. The most fragrant address in Ghent is probably that of Mokabon, where the Mysore and Margogyp coffees await the connoisseur. (Mokabon, Donkersteeg).

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