This would be my last entry of Brussels attractions before I proceed with a travelogue in Amsterdam. Initially I wanted to share 1 entry of all the underground station photos that we were passing through on the 9th and 10th October 2015. However, my photo folder got mixed up and I can no longer found them in a proper order. Plus, I have misplaced the Metro city map to name those station accordingly. This entry is necessary as a visit to Brussels would not be complete if there's no story about how waffles is being famously related to Belgium and another issue that I would like to touch about is how Islam at present being the 2nd largest religion practiced in Belgium.
|Isn't she lovely? The girl that I met in the Metro from Brussels Central to Laeken|
After we had enough with Atomium exploration, we decided to go back to the hotel. While approaching the underground Metro, we found the cafe operated by a Moroccan guy (you can see him in below photo). He speak very little English, but helpful enough to get us sufficient coins to pay the Metro fare (take note that the ticket machine only accept coins) after we paid our coffee and waffle. He is a Muslim, migrated from Morocco and has resided in Brussels since long ago. He has obtained a Belgian nationality.
|Official record, the one and only waffle I've tasted during 3 days 2 night stay in Brussels|
Alright, apparently the Belgian waffle is a type of waffle popular in Europe and North America but what is known in North America as the "Belgian waffle" does not actually exist in Belgium. No single type of waffle is identified as a "Belgian waffle" within Belgium itself, where there are a number of different varieties, including the Brussels waffle and the Liege waffle (2 different cities in Belgium). If comparing with the standard of American waffle, it is identified by its larger size, lighter batter, larger squares and a higher grid pattern that forms deep pockets. It also traditionally uses yeast instead of baking powder, although contemporary Belgian waffles are often made with baking powder. In Brussels, waffle being serve with your preferred topping, i.e. cream with melted chocolates, nutella spread added with any sorts of fruits to your liking.
|Take note that 1 euro is a price for the plain waffle|
Waffle was originally showcased in 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels, the same year where the Atomium was open. Belgian waffles were introduced to North America by a Belgian named Walter Cleyman at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle in 1962 where it was served with whipped cream and strawberries. The waffles were further popularized in the United States during the 1964 New York World's Fair at Flushing Meadows Park. History wise, the waffle was introduced by Maurice Vermersch of Brussels, Belgium, and was named the "Bel-Gem Waffle". Largely based on a simplified recipe for the Brussels waffles, Vermersch decided to change the name upon observing that many Americans could not correctly identify Brussels as the capital of Belgium. These waffles were served with whipped cream and strawberries, and retailed for a dollar. At present, a euro is priced for a plain waffle without additional topping.
|Noticed a gypsy beggar in this photo? There are many of them seeking money from passersby|
The Moroccan cafe owner was more than happy to share what he knows about how Islam is spreading in Brussels and in many parts of Belgium. Islam is the second largest religion in Belgium, practiced by an estimated 5% to 6% of the country total population. 98% of the Belgian Muslims belong to the Sunni denomination and the rest are Shia. In Brussels alone, Muslims cover 25.5% of its population. The majority of Belgian Muslims live in the major cities, such as Antwerp, Brussels and Charleroi. A 2011 estimation by Belgian academic Jan Hertogen shows that close to a million people have a foreign background from Islamic countries.
|Muslim local ladies. P/s: my apology if I shared this photo without permission, ladies. But you both are beautiful donning a headscarf|
According to estimates released in 2007 by sociologist Jan Hertogen, the largest group of immigrants in Belgium, about 300 thousands people are Moroccans. The Turks are the third-largest group. Other nationalities represented are mostly Arabs, Pakistanis and West Africans. No accurate numbers can be given as religious or ethnic censuses are forbidden in Belgium, and most people with roots in Islamic countries (including Christian Assyrian refugees from Turkey) took the Belgian nationality, their children born in Belgium are more and more born as Belgian citizens and thence do not appear in any statistics.
|Beautiful arts inside the station underground shaft wall|
Moroccan and Turkish immigrants began coming in large numbers to Belgium starting in the 1960s as guest workers. Though the guest-worker program was abolished in 1974, many immigrants stayed and brought their families using family reunification laws. Today the Muslim community continues to grow through marriage migration. More than 60% of Moroccan and Turkish youth marry partners from their home countries. In 1974, Islam was recognized as one of the subsidized religions in Belgium and the Muslim Executive of Belgium was founded in 1996. In 2006, the government gave Euro6.1 million to Islamic groups. There are an estimated of 380 mosques in the country, quite a large number for Muslim devotee.
|Art wall inside 1 of the underground station|