You’ll find all the usual Belgian specialties in Antwerp, with waffles, chips, mussels, chocolate and beer readily available around the town. However, there are some things that are particular to Antwerp and part of the experience when you visit.
It might seem a bit odd eating hand-shaped biscuits and chocolates, but it’s hard to avoid in Antwerp and they are delicious. They also make a great gift to bring home and a good talking point. Think of all the jokes too – "take a handful", "give me a hand with this", "hand me one of those"... the possibilities are endless!
This liqueur was invented by a local doctor back in 1863 as a digestive aid, and is still going strong. It’s made from a blend of plants and herbs, giving it a unique, slightly bitter taste. Elixir is often used to flavour Antwerpse Handjes and can be used in recipes and cocktails, so you may want to pop a bottle in your suitcase to take home.
This Saturday food market on Theaterplein is where you’ll find locals doing their weekly shop or feeding their hangovers at one of the many food stalls. The market is open until 4pm so you can go for lunch or a late breakfast and feast on food from all over the world.
Seefbier (pronounced ‘safe beer’)
This, relatively new, beer is based on an old recipe for a pale beer that was very popular in Antwerp in the 1800s. It was launched in 2012 and has become massively popular again. It’s quite a mild beer with a very foamy head which, back in the day, led to it being known as poor man’s Champagne.
You’ll see these for sale all over the town. Basically an overflowing sandwich, smos means ‘spill out’. There are lots of different filling options: curry sausage, cheese, ham, eggs, salad, whatever, as long as there is loads of it.