Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Snorting Icing Sugar In Antwerpen (October 18, 2005)

This is a story about a Belgian/Dutch treat called 'Smoutebol' by the Belgians and 'Oliebol' by the Dutch, now to be known as 'a trap for innocent Kiwis' in English.

Gert and I went wandering on Sunday. We had a day to ourselves, and wanted to enjoy it. We caught the No. 11 tram to the city (Tram 24 should disappear from this site as I avoid it), and got off in the city centre.

The first big victory was locating a 'new' International Magazine shop. I just might have had words with an incredibly rude woman at the Magazine shop we were using ... sigh.

So I was happiness-filled, but then the gods decided to heap more good things upon us, and caused Gert to remember the 'Provence, Alpes, Cote d'Azur' tourism people were in the city, at the end of their 2 week promotion. It was the presence of the Camargue horses in Grote Markt that reminded him actually. We 'trotted' off to the French market, along with so many other Antwerpens on that very warm October day, but due to the heat and the crush of people, we didn't stay long ... but how nice it was to be amongst exquisite soap, wine and olive displays and stalls.

And then we come to the Smoutebol feast. Antwerpenites intrigue me, they have that European thing going ... confident, well-dressed, (or confidently dressed as they please - which is quite different to the first. I feel at home on city streets), and so when I first saw them eating their famous waffles out on the streets I was somehow surprised. In the same way I had been surprised by the large number of older couples holding hands openly as they walked ... street eating isn't really something that I recall Kiwis doing in big numbers.

There are waffle places everywhere ... little hole-in-the-wall operations, very clean, bright and smelling so good, and you can buy yourself a hot waffle, a chocolate or cream-covered waffle, whenever the need overcomes you, or you are overcome by the greed-need from the scent given off by waffles cooking.

Smoutebol is something else. They drop balls of a doughnut-like dough into hot fat and leave them to cook. The dough balls puff up into little round balls, and a paper cone is prepared for them. They pour them in, and they're a good size ... hmmm, about 8cms, if you were measuring their height, and then they are absoloutely drowned in icing sugar.

Now, imagine a slight breeze, 8 very hot Smoutebollen (that Gert has led me to believe must be eaten while still hot, a claim I'm suspicious of), and a ton of icing sugar which creates a falling shower of sugar that you can't escape. We stood on the main shopping street, every bite burning my mouth and, covering my clothes and face in a sprinkling of icing sugar ...

I need to research them ... I'll let you know what's possible in the days ahead

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