Belgium, Brussels

Marché du Midi

2nd March 2017

You find yourself in Brussels on a Sunday. What do you do? You go to the Marché du Midi, obviously!

I’m an avid frequenter of markets. Alongside bakeries, they are without a doubt my happy place. Local markets have a way of bringing a place to life with vibrant products and passionate producers. Back in 2009, I travelled to Brussels for the first time and my cousin took me to this market. Now that I was returning for another visit, I was itching to go again.

The Marché du Midi is the most famous and frequented market in Brussels (and probably in Belgium). The market covers a large spread of ground just outside of the Midi train station in the city centre. At this market, you’ll find a colourful array of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese, meat, fish, flowers, plants, clothes, trinkets, and a few food trucks.

              

But in my eyes, the real focal point of this market is the Middle Eastern food. Tucked away in an inner corner of the market, there’s a stall garnished with massive bowls of olives: green, black, purple, spicy, mild, with cheese, without cheese. You name the type of olive, they probably have it. Now I realize that olives are a contentious food: you either love them or hate them. It’s ok, because when you see this stall, you’ll also see a large griddle happily warming fresh Moroccan pancakes. These pancakes are the show stealers. To quote Rihanna (or is it Calvin Harris? Or is it T. Swift?), “Baby, this is what you came for”.

Right off the hot griddle, the pancakes are typically filled with fresh feta cheese and honey (and olives and marinated vegetables as well, the choice is yours). Sweet mint tea is also available to accompany your pancake, and I highly recommend that you get a cup to complete the experience. The Moroccan pancake is soft, with a slight crisp from the griddle, and the cheese is sinfully creamy. Honey and cheese really are the perfect pairing for these pancakes! Adding olives gives the pancake a slight savoury taste, but it TOTALLY works!

My cousin took me to the market at the ripe time of 7am to find parking and to avoid crowds. It was an early start for a Sunday, but I’ll make such sacrifices for food! Sure enough, we didn’t have to wait at all for our pancakes and we had our choice of tables. But I promise you that later in the day, this part of the market will become a madhouse. There will be long lines and a wait to get a pancake. We asked our pancake maker how many they sell during a typical market day, and he said about three hundred! MADNESS! But totally understandable because these pancakes are the bee’s knees.

Afterward, we roamed the market further and found another pancake stall, but this one was Turkish. The Turkish stall sold bread, pancakes, and Turkish coffee. Being a total glutton, I wanted to get one to compare the two styles of pancakes. It didn’t take much to convince my cousin to join in on the feast. WIN! So we got pancakes again. The Turkish stall offered ricotta cheese instead of feta, alongside olives and honey. The Turkish pancakes were thicker in texture and slightly chewier, but still good nonetheless. FYI: Nutella pancakes are available at both stalls for the less adventurous.

So let’s recap: you find yourself in Brussels on a Sunday. What do you do? You follow in my footsteps by going to the Marché du Midi to taste-test both the Moroccan and Turkish pancakes and to drink mint tea. Deal?


Location: Gare du Midi (also called Zuidstation or Midi station).

Time: Sundays from 7am to 2pm.

Tips:

  • Go early to avoid crowds.
  • Parking is limited. Take public transportation.
  • Prices  go down toward closing time to get rid of stock.

Jess

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