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Tasty and meaningful Walloon lunch: Belgium's Museum of Walloon Life

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Some museums put more thought into what their restaurants serve and represent than others. Some go the extra mile and make the experience mean something more than just a meal. Belgium's Museum of Walloon Life Espaces Saveurs (tasty spaces) is quite memorable. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!

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There's a debate out there whether the gourmet traveler should always be seeking restos with gelees, foams and pearls or whether some authentically regional meals should be part of the mix. Authenticity is the way to go, I say! You must learn to walk before you can run.

Espaces Saveurs employs developmentally disabled adults. The dining space -- conveniently and temptingly next to the gift shop -- is open, light and casual. The restaurant focuses on regional and seasonal specialties.

They serve local beers, including Blonde d'Olaye, a nutty blonde (!) beer served in a pewter chalice. In Belgium, a drink always comes with a little snack. They also have Peket, which folk hero "Francois" of Liege was alleged to have drank -- and only drank -- during Charlemagne's time. It's a distilled drink that comes in hundreds of flavors and will knock you on your ass.

The house salad was wondrously rich in colors, even when produce in the US was looking wan and peaked. It was served with a cream dressing.

Belgian fries -- and they are Belgian, having been invented in the city of Hays -- are served with mayo.

Boulet(s) a la liegeoise are the local rich meatballs. They offer them in increments of one and even as a hearty eater, one will probably do ya'. They're served with sirop de Liege, syrup made from evaporated apple and pear juice.

It's not just about "Belgian waffles," people! Each region of Belgium has its own recipe. Liege waffles are softer, more cooked than you might be used to, with a hit of salt.

Café Liégois -- a rich treat -- is a little milkshake made with coffee ice cream.

For more info, check out http://www.visitbelgium.com/

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