Once upon a time, 17-year-old Jillian convinced her parents to let her run off to Belgium for three months to be immersed in the French language and culture (French is one of Belgium's three official languages, in case you were confused). True story. Not only did I learn French, but I was also surrounded by an abundance of Belgian foods every single day—cue the drooling.

Belgian foods are amazing because not only are they uniquely Belgian, but they're also influenced by French, German, and Dutch culture. My memories of Belgium are fond, and therefore I'm eager to share this list of 20 Belgian foods you should consider trying should you find yourself lucky enough to visit the country. 

1. Liége Waffles

Jillian Rogers

If you go to Belgium and don't eat waffles, did you even go to Belgium? If you like languages and words as much as I do, waffles in French is "les gaufres."

Make sure you order Liége waffles at least once during your trip; the dough has pearl sugar or sugar crystals in it, which melt and caramelize while the waffle cooks. As a result of the caramelized sugar, the waffles are sweet with just a hint of crunch. You can actually find waffle trucks wandering the streets of Brussels. Liége waffles are an irregular oval shape about the size of your hand, making them perfect for eating while souvenir shopping.

#SpoonTip: Feeling adventurous? Order your waffle covered in chocolate. Or with whipped cream. Or both. YOLO.

2. Brussels Waffles

While we may call them Belgian waffles, the proper name is actually Brussles Waffles. Instead of using baking powder to make the batter rise, true Brussels waffles use yeast. The pockets are deep, making them perfect for holding onto butter, syrup, or whipped cream. You'll often find them sprinkled with icing sugar. Compared to Liége waffles, which are dense and chewy, Brussels waffles are light and crispy. You'd be more likely to find these in served in restaurants.  

3. Chocolate

Belgium is (and will always be) the chocolate capital of the world in my opinion; I definitely consider myself somewhat of a chocolate snob since returning home. The ingredients in Belgian chocolate are ground so finely that your taste buds can't recognize the differences between them, which is why it tastes so smooth.

The majority of convenience stores carry the Côte D'Or brand, which have large bars for sharing in addition to small personalized bars. My favourite was the white chocolate, which is saying something considering I hate North American white chocolate. Côte D'Or always makes chocolate that is great for baking. Leonidas makes super truffles and legit hot chocolate. Their stores are higher quality but not crazy expensive. 

#SpoonTip: A lot of chocolate stores give samples or have samples on display for tourists to try.

4. Les Frites

french fries, potato, chips
Alyssa Vaughn

Here's your fun fact for the day—Belgium is actually thought to be the birthplace of fried potatoes. Made in dedicated Fry Shacks—which sound so much more sophisticated when called Friteries—Belgian fries (les frites) are a staple for tourists and native Belgians alike. They're served in a paper cone and smothered in mayonnaise-based sauces like Andalouse. I have so many fond memories strolling through the streets of Brussels with a cone in one hand and my day's shopping in the other. The little forks are perfect since they prevent your hands from getting greasy. 

5. Mitraillette

If you thought poutine was crazy, wait until you try a mitraillette. Start with a fresh baked baguette, load on the Belgian Frites, fried meat, sauces, some shredded veggies (completely optional), melted cheese, and dig in. Every friterie has its own take on this Belgian fast-food classic, some with steak and others with curry ketchup. You won't be finding this Belgian food on any upscale fine-dining menu, so make sure to try it when you can.

6. Moules Frites

Honestly, this one gets a thumbs down from me since I am not a seafood fan. However, the majority of other people rave about Moules-Frites while reminiscing about Belgian foods, so I felt it was necessary to include it in this list. This classic dish is available in most restaurants along with local variants encompassing some combination of white wine, beer, butter, leeks, cream, or garlic. Les frites are served on a separate dish with mayonnaise so they don't get soggy.

7. Steak-Frites

Considered by many to be the national dish of Belgium, this dish is perfect if you find yourself feeling nostalgic for some comfort food. Like Moules-Frites, you can find Steak-Frites in just about any restaurant. Make sure to order this with some of Belgium's world-renowned beer. 

8. Poulet-Frites-Compotes

At this point, I think we've established that Belgian people love their frites. So why not combine them with chicken and applesauce too? Another variation that I had a few times was sausage with potato chips (yes, the original Lay's potato chips) with applesauce. I couldn't find an official name for this combination, but it was delish and a common dinner meal on a busy school night. 

9. Stoemp

We're shaking things up a bit with potatoes and mashing them instead of frying. The essential ingredients are potatoes, cream, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. After that, you can get creative with the leftover veggies in the fridge. Stoemp mashed potatoes are so much smoother and creamier compared to ones I was used to back home. I loved the addition of carrots and walnuts sprinkled on top for some crunch. You'll often be served stoemp alongside sausage

10. Raclette

If you love cheese, you'll adore raclette. Raclette, originating in Sweden, is a sturdy cheese that holds up well when heated. The word raclette comes from the French verb racler meaning "to scrape." The gigantic wheel of cheese would be heated up and then scrapped off once melted. While the idea isn't technically Belgian I'll let it slide since they do put their own spin on it.

In Belgium, my host family had an electric raclette grill that melted cheese on the bottom in little pans and cooked potatoes and meat on top. Once the cheese was melted, we scraped the cheese on top of our cooked food using a wooden paddle. Or sometimes just ate the melted cheese on its own. 

11. Belgian Beef Stew

What makes Belgian Stew so special? It's made with Belgian Beer. And not just a drizzle, a whole bottle. This is one of those Belgian foods that has a different version depending on where in Belgium you visit. It's often served with mashed potatoes, frites (what a surprise!), or with pasta. 

12. Croustillions

We can thank The Netherlands for sharing this delicious treat, which are essentially deep fried dough balls. Topped with icing sugar, Croustillions are popular during fairs. I tried Croustillions during the Mardis Gras celebrations in Binche. 

13. Pannenkoeken

Originating in the Netherlands, Pannenkoeken are thin pancakes similar to crepes. The main difference is that different fillings are added to the batter during the cooking process. Common add-ins include apple, raisins, ham, and cheese. I always found it interesting how often savoury flavours were paired with crepes and pannenkoeken as opposed to sweeter foods like chocolate and fruit. 

15. Pain du Chocolate

You knew it was going to be a good day when these made an appearance at the breakfast table. I mean, it's Belgium, so all their bread is amazing. But as soon as you put chocolate in the bread, you're combing two already delicious Belgian foods into one.

16. Rice Tart

Rice pudding is one of those hidden gems that people refuse to eat without having a good reason, other than "it's weird." Well, I for one love rice pudding and encourage you to try it as well.

Rice Tart, as the name suggests, consists of rice pudding baked into pie form. The bright yellow top is the result of egg-washing the rice pudding before baking. I think this is an ingenious idea since everything tastes better in pie form.

17. Speculoos Cookies

Think of a Gingerbread cookie, but with less ginger and more cinnamon that's sweeter and flakier. That, my friends, is a Speculoos cookie. Belgians love their Speculoos so much that they incorporate it into just about everything. Forget peanut butter. Here, they eat Speculoos Cookie Butter like there's no tomorrow. It's used as a cheesecake base instead of graham crackers. You can find it sprinkled on pudding, tiramisu, cake, baked into other cookies, and even in its own ice cream brand. 

Want to make your own Speculoos cookies? Give this recipe a try.

18. Cuberdon

Other than the fact that these candies are likened to human noses, I'm awfully fond of them. The deep violet-coloured ones are the original and taste like raspberry. If you manage to find fresh cuberdons, the outside shell is crisp, but the inside is still gel-like and can be sucked out. 

19. Jenever

Love gin? Jenever is apparently its grandfather. If you want to drink it the proper way, place a shot glass in the freezer.

20. Beer

To round out our list, we'll finish up with another Belgian speciality: beer. I don't drink, so I can't accurately compare Belgian beer to any other beer. All I know is that Belgian beer is regarded as some of the best in the world. Since the drinking age is 16, I was constantly being offered alcohol of some sort wherever I went. It was a little awkward but made for an interesting atmosphere.

Living in Belgium was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life and navigating the food scene was definitely a highlight. The best advice I can offer when trying Belgian foods is to be adventurous. You probably won't be able to pronounce anything off a menu—since the official languages are French and Dutch—but no worries. Just point and grin. If it looks or sounds good, I can guarantee it'll taste good.

#SpoonTip: When in doubt, waffles and chocolate are both excellent options.