Belgian Street-Meat Heaven

Mitraillette: it’s the world’s most perfect food.

Without a description of its component parts you may mistake this culinary art form for a simple hot-dog covered in French fries. Trust me when I say this is well beyond your common hot-dog doused in chips and ketchup.

A mitraillette is started with a baguette. Nobody can argue the appeal of the baguette.

The baguette is then slathered with a sauce of your choice.

You may be familiar with the Dutch practice of putting mayonnaise on French fries. The Belgians have a selection of sauces for their frites that is rivaled only by their selection of beers. My favorite food stand in Belgium had at least 30 sauces to choose from — from curry ketchup, to Americano, to garlic, to bearnaise, to Spicy Samurai; but the favoured condiment is Andalouse sauce.

I would try to describe Andalouse sauce for you, but I would fail to live up to the actual experience. I recommend that you get to Belgium yourself and pull over at the first frite stand with a line-up.

Upon this bed of sauce lays a frikandel. Wikipedia describes the frikandel as a long, skinless, dark-coloured meat sausage, deep-fried. Some would argue that it is not a sausage as it doesn’t have a skin, but few would argue the appeal of a deep fried sausage.

The frikandel is covered with a heaping mound of frites, not French fries. The Belgians have perfected the fried potato. Double-fried in roadside stands across the country, the best frites live on the fringes of food safety, where the grease is allowed to season properly (a stand suffers a noticeable decrease in traffic and flavour when it sanitizes the fryers).

The frites and sauce are treat enough, but the anticipation of the buried frikandel adds to the experience. But questions remain: do you eat enough frites that you can fold over the baguette and eat it like a sub, or do you leave that for last, to be eaten like an Andalouse-improved version of garlic bread?

I pine for the nights when a mitraillette was only a short walk from the bar.

A Belgian Jupiler beer (well, to be honest a few Belgian Jupiler beers) makes the perfect appetizer for the mitraillette, and remember, for best results, consume after 2 a.m.

Mark Beese is our co-publisher.

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