I'm afraid a large number of my posts, perhaps the vast majority, will be about food. Which tells you something about my interests and priorities, even if it doesn't give you a broad overview of Belgian culture and society.
But then again, food is culture, right?
So... Belgians love bread. They eat a lot of it, on a daily basis, and they buy it fresh from the bakery. There's none of that mass-produced, preservative-laden, brand-name bread on the grocery store shelves. Even the grocery chains sell freshly-baked bread.
But the baker opens early and also closes early, and these days, even Belgians have to work all day and can't always make it to the bakery to buy bread. So what do they do?
They go to the Broodautomaat!
This is one of my favorite things about Belgium. I'd never seen one before I came here, but they're everywhere. I finally got to watch someone use one for the first time the other day and took pictures!
A broodautomaat is a vending machine for fresh bread. The baker stocks it every day, so that when he's closed for the night, you can still get your fresh loaf of bread on your way home from work.
You put in your 2€ coin and select which bread you want (hopefully the kind you like hasn't sold out) and then you take it from the machine. Fresh bread for dinner, and for breakfast the next day!