A “Quick” intro to Belgium

While “savouring” a fine junk food meal this afternoon, it dawned on me that this thing was a great allegory for Belgium, the homeground of this here blog.

Belgium is a federal state,

(see it as as a a bunch of concession holders who together from a junk food chain. The franchise-holders can decide where they put the napkins and the garbage cans independently, as long as they serve the same kind of food and pay their taxes)

… with Flemish, Walloon & German people in it, …

(the first tribe orders “Een giant menu”, the second ethnic group does this with “Un menu Giant” and the third reich commands “Ein Giant menu”. After which the fluently trilingual employees reply them respectivily “medium of maxi?”, “medium ou maxi?” or “medium oder maxi?”. A true tower of Babel in the making! (insert irony mark here).

… who don’t give a fuck about each other…

(it used to be different, but it seems nowadays nobody cleans up their trays from the tables after they finish)

… and have practically nothing in common but the monarchy and soccer (both of which are in a apalling state right now)

(Everybody sits at their own table, hardly looking each other in the eye. I wished I had my Ipod with me).

… which leads many to believe this whole country will be history in a few years time

(Separatism is like the two buns of the hamburger going their own seperate ways, after having a fight over who gets what part of the meat + lettuce + tomato. Most likely outcome: the meat + lettuce + tomato will end up torn and unsavoury, the buns drained and lifeless).

… The highlights of Belgium include the historical cities,

(where a Quick or a McDonalds are never more than a block away)

… the culinary culture

(Quick is in French hands, and they claim their burgers are “much tastier” than the bland American junk-foodish McDonalds)

… beer

(which you can have even in the junk food restaurants, but only if you order a full meal)

… and surreal painters …

(E.g. nowhere do you get more food info on what you’re eating than in a junk food restaurant. Oh, the horror: junk food! American imperialism against refined European taste! While next door, nobody’s telling you what you get when ordering Belgium’s typical snack: greasy french fries splattered with mayonaise, or Kebab. Or where the more upscale restaurants serve you a kettle-full of moules-frites, or where they’re savouring “steak tartare” (which is a raw hamburger, with a raw egg yoke  on top of it) … )

Nobody loves it, but still it’s chockfull of people who won’t go away (heck, even resent that others are coming in).

(there’s no junk food like our junk food, and we want to stay rich enough to afford eating it)

… It’s a place full of wealth

(one hour of begging on the sidewalk will easily get you a 3� value meal: cheeseburger, maxi-fries �nd a  small drink. 15 minutes more might even get you the extra euro to include a milkshake with that!)

… and happiness

(Happy meals for the kids!)

… in the heart of Europe.

(neighbours are the British (fish ’n chips, anyone?), the Dutch (broodje kroket, anyone?), the Germans (knackwurst anyone?) and the French (frog legs, anyone?). People from Luxemburg (Luxemburgians? Luxemburgers?) don’t eat snacks, they spend all their money on cheap sigarettes & petrol).

Talk to the hand

Oh, what would I be without the wonders of the net (in this case Dailymotion – a better, european youtube – and the “highly influential” blogger Michel Vuijlsteke who spotted the film there): I totally would’ve missed the television highlight of the year: Gringo from VT4’s Temptation Island!

High on something really good (the same thing Ellen Feiss got before her famous Apple-ad, methinks), he receives the news of his girlfriend fooling around by changing his language (he switches from his usual West-Flemish accent to an even stranger-sounding Dutch) and by telling his girlfriend that she now “can climb up the highest coconut tree and pick nuts like a monkey” and that when he’ll meet her again he’ll tell her “talk to the hands cause the face don’t won’t to hear it anymore”, that he “from now on is single, and his number is 0473 xxxxxx”.

Talk to the hand(s)” is used here of course in a reference to Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element”, not with the Jerry Springer trash talk most would think. Just look at the synopsis of this film : “Every five millennia, when three planets are in eclipse, evil is embodied and attempts to turn all light to darkness and all life to death. The weapon against this evil is is activated by bringing together the five elements of the universe: the first four are water, fire, earth, and air, and the fifth element is love, embodied in a Perfect Being.” And that’s what El Gringo just has lost. Deep. Deep…