Sunday, August 7, 2011


When anyone thinks of Belgium they always think of one thing: Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg, more commonly known as Jean-Claude Van Damme. As this blog is about food, I will not digress with a compare and contrast analysis of Universal Soldier and Bloodsport. Besides, everyone knows that the scene in Hard Target where he punches a snake then bites off its rattle is one of the greatest movie moments of our time (watch it). An interesting fact that some people may not know is that JCVD's father was an accountant and owned a flower shop. As an accountant with a food blog, this gives me hope that my future progeny may also possess awesome kickboxing and snake punching prowess.

A commonly known Van Damme fact is that his nickname is 'The Muscles From Brussels". This is clever because he is from Brussels, has muscles, and it rhymes. I have since found out that mussels are one of the most popular culinary delights in Belgium, which makes this nickname clever on a whole other level: there are just so many layers to this guy (like an onion).

Of course there is much more to Belgium than Jean-Claude, for instance the Antwerp Diamond Exchange, reigning Australian Open tennis champ "Aussie Kim" Clijsters, beer, the Flemish. I always wondered who the Flemish people were and have now discovered that 'Flemings' are the dutch speaking inhabitants of Belgium (as opposed to the french speaking Walloons). Wikipedia also states that Australia has the third largest Flemish population in the world, however this seems at odds with the very definition of a Fleming. Nevertheless Wikipedia can't be wrong so I am happy repeating the fact as gospel.

You would think that living close to the ocean would mean that fresh seafood is plentiful and easy to come by. Not so for fresh mussels (our large Flemish population must be very disappointed with this). In the end I settled for frozen New Zealand green-lipped mussels which turned out to be delicious. Main ingredient sorted, I then turned to the condiment: like many of my generation, I first learned about the Europeans love of mayonnaise on chips (aka fries or frites) from Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction (he was referring to the Dutch but close enough). Until now I had never tried this continental delight, but I can say that although undoubtedly unhealthy, it tastes brilliant especially accompanied by the seasoned and quite saucy mussels. Also, I am getting better at deep frying and my chips tasted great as well.

Moules Frites (Mussels and Fries)


Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
750g Potatoes, peeled, cut into chips
20g Butter
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Brown onion, diced
1 Garlic clove, crushed
1 Long red chili, finely chopped
1 Cup White wine
300ml Thickened cream
1kg Mussels, cleaned & de-bearded
¼ Cup Parsley leaves roughly chopped
1 Cup Whole egg mayonnaise
750g Potatoes, cut into chips


Preheat oven to 200C. Pour vegetable oil into a saucepan until half full and put over medium-high heat. When hot add one-third of the chips and deep-fry for 5 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a baking tray. Deep-fry remaining portions. Transfer tray to oven.

Meanwhile, heat butter and oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When butter has melted add onion and cook for 3 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and chili and cook for 1 minute. Pour wine and cream into saucepan. Stir until well combined and bring to the boil. 

Add mussels and cover saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes or until mussels are heated through. Serve mussels immediately, drizzled with sauce and sprinkled with parsley, with chips and mayonnaise on the side.


  1. Hey Nick,

    Nice looking blog!
    I too have a similar blog, where I film the national dishes as I make them (
    It's comforting to find another Australian amateur chef embarking on a similar journey, especially reading about the tribulations of finding particular ingredients, and different methods of cooking. I love it when it all come together though, good food = good times!
    Keep up the good work!


  2. Hi Nick,
    I am cooking my way around the world, too. I'm getting ready to start my second year after a 5 month break. I was only going to blog about 52 countries, but I had to go on. My twist is that I do all of this from the galley/kitchen of my 21-foot fifth wheel RV that I live in full time. I also set a budget of $20 per week. You are off to a great start, and I can't wait to see more posts. Please visit my blog at and take a look. My project is called Around the World in an RV.
    Laurrie Piland aka TheRVChef...Life in an RV

  3. moules, frites, pulp fiction...rock on, Nick aka, Master Chef! I love you blog and am thrilled to have you join the cooking around the world community! I see you've met Laurrie, check out Eric, at: - another international food blogger and an all around great guy. Looking forward to following you!

  4. Hi! Just found your blog through my friend Sarah (What's Cooking in Your World"). I have been doing the same thing for a few years and am up to Grenada. It is slow going because I also read a book set in or about the country. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Cook on!