Mussels and Fries, a National Passion
Belgium’s excellent local pommes frites are not French fries at all— a grievous misnomer, as this universally known and loved side order is Belgian in origin. Although indulged at any time of day, smothered with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise and wrapped in a cardboard cone, they are also the perfect compliment to Belgium’s other much- heralded specialty, moules (mussels), a combination as beloved and ubiquitous as the American burger and fries.
The well-known Leon de Bruxelles (until recently known as Chez Leon) is the quintessential mussels-and-fries joint. Having secured its fame over 100 years as it slowly expanded into a row of eight old houses and looking every bit the tourist trap, this venerable, old-fashioned restaurant is a warren of rooms filled with mussels-devouring Bruxellois.
The frites—twice fried and light as a feather—have long been known as the best in town. The blue-shelled mussels are prepared fourteen different ways, although there are other regional specialties on the menu such as eel in green sauce (anguilles au vert) made with sorrel, chervil, and parsley.