Flemish regional products

Belgian endives

There can be no fine dining without good products and ingredients. Thanks to distinct seasons and climate, Flanders’ culinary landscape has grown to become one of the world’s most varied and interesting. Many of our chefs prepare their dishes based on what’s available locally, bringing you the freshest food at the best time.

Flanders reputation for providing exceptional produce is due to the experience and craftsmanship of our farmers, fishermen, hunters and cheese makers. These artisans deliver incredible regional products that are hard to find anywhere else in the world.

Grey schrimp

It’s a remarkable spectacle on the North Sea. Sturdy carthorses wade through the surf, on their back a horseman attire in bright yellow knee-high boots and ditto rain slickers. Behind them trails a large net. Today, Oostduinkerke, about 20 km down the coast from Oostende, is the only place in the world where they use this traditional manner of fishing for grey shrimp.  

They give the world the very finest grey schrimps, also known as ‘Purus’, a unique Flemish sea product. Often described as the ‘queen of seafood’, they are less than an inch long when peeled, have a greyish-pink colour, an a more pronounced taste than the traditional larger, pink schrimps. They are at their largest between August and November.

Although technically not really ‘a fish’, the grey schrimp became fish of the year in Flanders in 2022. Because it’s an absolute delicacy and a culinary highlight in our Flemish kitchen and restaurants. And moreover, Belgian fishing for grey shrimp does not have a negative impact on the crustacean’s stock.  

This treasure of the North Sea is used in many typical Flemish dishes. A traditional way of eating them is to have them stuffed in tomatoes with lemon juice and mayonnaise. Enjoy your tomate-crevette! Or try the very tasty ‘schrimp croquette’.

Shrimp fishermen ©Dirk van Hove

Belgian endive or chicory

Belgian endives
witloofkroket mini ©Gastronello

Chicory or Belgian endive is a popular winter vegetable in Flanders and far beyond. But did you know that it first saw the light of day thanks to a fortunate coincidence? Some 200 years ago, a gardener in the Botanical Gardens in Brussels hid a handful of unknown seeds under a thick layer of fertile soil. In the dark and without him knowing it, this act would cause the emergence of an icon: Belgian endive or chicory. The endive developed into an essential part of our culinary culture.  

Today, this is the only place in the world where these slightly bitter shoots are grown in the proper way: in the darkness and in rich, fertile soil. A unique technique that results in heavenly flavours. Many chefs, in Flanders and beyond, turn to the Belgian endive because it is the most flavourful in the world.  

Endive is characterized by its crunchy leaves and slightly bitter taste. The distinctive tangy flavor of each leaf of this vegetable has its own special mystique. Flavor and versatility are key words, as are high nutritional value, high mineral content, and low sodium. There is only one calorie per leaf and zero carbs.  

Raw, caramelized or braised; each cooking method shows off a different side of this tasty vegetable. To truly educate yourself about this delicacy, go classic. Wrap endives in ham, then smother them in a lovely rich cheese sauce (or just order Belgian endive ham rolls in cheece sauce on your next visit to Flanders).  

To waste as little as possible of this flavorful vegetable, the Cools family from Zemst, home of the fourth generation of open-ground endive cultivators, came up with a creative way of processing the outer leaves of the endive harvest into endive croquettes. This gained them a Food Waste Award in 2020, plus a particularly tasty croquette in which the flavour of endive comes fully into its own. 


Our snow-white asparagus, often nicknamed ‘white gold’, is world renowned for its delicious flavour. It’s a top seasonal product that we feast on from April until the end of June. 

The typical Flemish asparagus is white, as it is grown covered in soil to prevent photosynthesis. This prevents the asparagus turning green and results in a taste a little sweeter and much tenderer than the green asparagus. It is generally harvested from late April to early June. In Flanders, due to the short growing season and demand for local produce, asparagus commands a premium and the asparagus season is a highlight of the foodie calendar. 

Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten: once the buds start to open, the shoots quickly turn woody and become strongly flavoured. The shoots are prepared and served in a number of ways around the world, typically as an appetizer or a vegetable side dish.

In the Flemish style, it is mostly boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce and/of melted butter. 


Fruity delicious

Do you like sweet, sour or something in between, with an emphasis on healthy? Our Belgian fruit growers cultivate only apples and pears of the best quality. Thanks to their passion, knowledge and experience passed on from generation to generation. And with respect for nature, through thoughtful plantings and meticulous crop care and protection. For instance, did you know that insects and certain birds keep our beloved Jonagold safe?
Besides the well-known Jonagold apples and Conference pears, there are many other varieties. Golden Delicious is nice and sweet and perfect for applesauce. Or Clapps, a pear that is great for stewing.

Nothing beats the taste of a crisp fresh Belgian apple or pear straight from the tree.

Apples ©Stefan Jacobs

Culinary treats and Belgian Beer

Love of food and flavour is in a Fleming’s blood, and good taste is rooted in our DNA. In Flanders, food lovers taste flavors and dishes they can't find anywhere else, thanks to the variety in local products. We are living the good life.

Belgian endives