My messy brain work

It’s food that makes me home 民以食为天

I suppose we do need to have some perspectives in life.

The first time I arrived in Brussels, I came from Rome. Brussels was its usual rainy and grey self. I thought, oh God, this is miserable. I was staying with friends, they made me feel as home as possible. We went sightseeing, went to taste the chocolate, went to see Tintin and went to have the mussels. Still, Brussels is no Roma.

It was really until I discovered the little China Town in the middle of Brussels — given how small the city is compare to cities like Paris, London or Beijing, it’s really not that easy to miss it — that I felt, ok, at least there’s somewhere to seek refuge when I’m truly desperate.

And then, this day came pretty soon.

I stayed in Luxembourg for about 10 days with a friend. I was getting pretty desperate. Luxembourg is…… small! (I still want to make friends in Luxembourg)

Luckily, we returned to Brussels! And this time, I wowed to see Brussels! It’s modern, cosmopolitan, international and fun! The part of the city I didn’t get to appreciate the previous time I was here.

And most importantly, I so discovered, is the sense of feeling safe when I know there are places to go to for home food. Not just the Chinese restaurants — in fact, one Chinese restaurant we went to in Luxembourg was really good, the food was very authentically southern, I tasted immediately the familiarity as from my home province — but more of a conspicuous recognition of a Chinese community here, a geographic concentration, where you know you can find your usual instant noodles, frozen dumplings, and favourite soy sauce without too much of trouble or too much of costs, something quite different even in London, where everything at least doubles the price in the Chinese supermarkets.

For a highly globalised world today, whether we judge globalisation good or bad, the reality is, we do indeed live in a big global village. Just look at how many Chinese restaurants there are all around the world. Even in Luxembourg, each village seems to have at least one Chinese restaurant, most unexpectedly.

So I’m now quite in love with Brussels, particularly when a day like today, blue sky, bright sunshine and life is brilliant.

Plus, Brussels is the birth place of one of my favourite cafes in the world – Le Pain Quotidien or My Daily Bread. I went to their branch in London back to 2007 and loved their way of serving coffee in bowls. I shall write a separate piece for this story next time.


A hearty lunch at Le Pain Quotidien in the heart of Brussels











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