10.04.2017 - Penpals Belgium: the chef from Brussels

Penpals Belgium: the chef from Brussels


It is much quicker and easier to form new friendships with other people who share the same passion or interest. For instance, if I am a mad keen football fan, or I love history, dances or certain kind of music, I may be prepared to spend more time with someone who also shares the same interest. It is logical, in my opinion.

I am a chef and I consider myself a professional in this area. No, I don’t work in a  restaurant. My kitchen is my experimental laboratory and my family and friends are my best tasters and judges. Almost every day I surf the Internet in a search of new unusual recipes. I also share my сulinary experience with friends online in return of  their ideas and advices. Four years ago I got acquainted with guy from Belgium. This small country is nestled along the North Sea and is often overshadowed by its more romantic French neighbor to the south or the ever so thrilling city of Amsterdam above it. But if you take a look at Belgium’s regional cuisine, you will see that the food is reason enough to make a trip to this extra rainy, yet beautifully forested country. I still didn’t visit it but anyway now I have a penpal in Belgium and  knew some delicious traditional recipes.
He was born and grew up in Brussels. As many other European cities, Brussels significantly changed its appearance over years. Belgium's fascinating capital, this city is multinational to its roots. Being at the crossroads of cultures (the Germanic in the North and the Romance in the South) and playing an important role in Europe, Brussels fits the definition of the archetypal "melting pot", but still retains its own unique character.

Regardless of it my friend would rather prefer to live in Leuven, which is a city east from Brussels. It is smaller and not so crowded. Moreover it is a Flemish city there, whereas Brussels is more French speaking. Belgium is divided into two large parts: the Dutch-speaking Flanders and the French-speaking Valonia and inhabitants of these two parts not always get on well.

He also tried to live and work in other countries. Being a bit naive, he went to Japan in 2010 in a pursuit of better life. People often think that grass is greener somewhere else. He stayed there for a year, but all his attempts had not been succeeded because of many reasons. Anyway he learned his lesson then. Belgium has its negative aspects, but also a lot of advantages. At least it is a guarantee of relative stability.

Life is an experiment from his point of view. He changed his job several times until he found that one he really loves. He worked in a bookstore because reading is his passion and “ the smell of books was great “.

Unfortunately  the salary was very low so he had to give it up and get another job in a hotel as night auditor. Then he finished the culinary courses and worked as a cook in a small restaurant. This attempt also had no success. Working as a cook every day, he made a conclusion that it is not an easy matter.

Currently he is studying telecommunications and software. He has been working in that field for a long time, but he  never finished high school. So at his forty three years old he decided to get a bachelor degree for that and started taking evening classes. It is never too late. As a person who is interested in cookery, he writes about many things like a chef, even about his job and studying. Funny, but sometimes it sounds like this:  “It's a very broad concept  and it's like being a cook with only fish, but you prefer to make desserts, you know? So now I have to "cook fish" all the time, and I want to move to something else in this field, which is why I started those classes, to open up more opportunities. “
On weekends he usually gives Wushu lessons to his nephews or cycling. A bicycle is the main transport in Belgium. All large centers and stations have parking for bicycles, there are thousands of  them everywhere.

In his last letter he wrote maybe he will get married soon.  He still didn’t make his final decision. Belgians are known for being reserved and conservative and relationships can take a long time to develop. His girlfriend was born in France but also lives in Brussels. Speaking of Belgian women, they are typically independent, with Belgium boasting good wage equality and employment conditions. Despite Belgian women being socially and economically empowered, it hasn't replaced the traditional family values in this country.

Last year my friend was taken some extra vocation which he still did not use. So this summer probably we will meet in Bulgaria for a couple of weeks. I will be there with my family and he is going to invite his girlfriend. I am thinking about special souvenirs. Maybe it will be a cookery book or something symbolizing our productive friendship. I hope, it will be a great time!

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