A Belgian in the North Country: food portions

I confess! I am a food addict. Is there a conversation group for that? I am thinking about food almost all day long. I think about what I will have for breakfast when I just finished dinner, and I think about lunch when eating breakfast, and so on. I try to find a good balance between food and exercise, but that sounds easier than it really is.

Anyway, I do not often go out for food. When I do eat out at home in Belgium, it is mostly because of celebrations or because I’m on the road all day. Here in the North Country, I only go out for dinner when we are traveling around and we won’t be home on time. I am blessed with a host family that loves to eat at home, too. My Belgian family is the kind of family that packs lunch when we are supposed to be away from home for the day, so we never buy lunch. And I do not mind, because at most of the places such as theme parks, the food is too expensive anyway. I am also vegetarian, which means the options I have are sometimes limited if it comes to fast food or the cheapest options. I’m no bunny; I want more than just a salad.

When we do go out for dinner in Belgium, it is not really the fancy stuff. With friends I end up in the fries stores or at the fish and chips restaurant in Brussels. Blame it on my Belgian roots. For birthday celebrations we might go to a restaurant where you can buy some full menu items–healthier than fries, I mean. We still do not end up in five-star restaurants where you pay lots of money for a dish as big as your fingernail. No, we do not like to spend too much money on food.

The food we eat is similar, but the portions are different. Here in the United States, the portions are just too much for me. I am the kind of girl who does not like to waste food, but I would explode if I finish the portions.

The price is fair compared to what you receive, but why is there not an option to choose a size? For example, my family took me to Rochester where I ordered a banana milkshake. The cup was so big that I almost got sick just from looking at it. I asked the waitress if there was a smaller size, but there was not. That milkshake had so many calories and so much sugar that I couldn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day. Why are we forced to eat/drink as much as they think we need? Why can’t we just decide which size we want?

I think my biggest surprise was the price of the beer and wine here in the United States. A beer in Belgium cost between 1,50 and 4 euros, depending on what kind of beer you get. Here in the United States, a beer (a good beer, anyway) can be $8. On the other hand, you can always ask for a free glass of water with your dinner, which is just wonderful.

My takeaway? I love the food and I think the price is okay, too, but if you don’t have a dog at home or if you do not feel like walking around town with a bag of leftover food, the portions are just too big.

Melissa Callaert is working as an intern at North Country Public Radio for the Spring 2016 semester.

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2 Comments on “A Belgian in the North Country: food portions”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    It’s probably the German (cheap) in me that causes me to prefer to eat at home.
    Not only is food too expensive when you eat out, it also comes in portions too big.
    Breakfast is best eaten at home because, in addition to cost, I like to eat shortly after I get up.

  2. stillin says:

    I agree with this column, the portions are ridiculous. I love to cook, eat and more than that, I love the aroma of food cooking in my home. I can cook better than any restaurant in my town, so it’s very easy not to go to eat. The two very good restaurants closed. I tried a diner for breakfast one time, the grease running off my plate and the 8.00 for a coffee, egg, toast and hash browns I thought was high. Nothing beats being a great cook and knowing what to cook for each season, for those appetite enhancing aroma’s.

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