Several years ago, experts speculated that around one billion people ate chocolate every day. Considering how many of us regularly consume this stuff, a visit to the chocolate capital of the world sounds like a must. Where can you find this place, though? In Belgium, of course.
It all started centuries ago
Many different countries produce chocolate on a daily basis, but none of them are renowned for their sweet treats like Belgium is. The reason for this may relate to the country’s history with chocolate, something which spans back to the 19th century.
At the time, cocoa beans were apparently considered a form of currency, and Belgium acquired a lot of them after King Leopold II occupied Congo. He shipped tons of the stuff back to his home country, and soon enough, the chocolate industry began booming. Several decades later, Belgian chocolatier Jean Neuhaus created the praline, and that’s when things really took off for the country.
Their greatest achievement
According to reports, Belgium now has around 2,000 shops dedicated to selling chocolate, of which approximately 170,000 metric tons is produced every year. For more than a century, people have been visiting the country purely for its chocolate, with the praline a particular favorite with tourists. Why is that?
Well, thanks to the country’s acquisition of all those beans, the quality of cocoa in these chocolates is usually higher quality than it is elsewhere. What’s more, the sweet treats are also reportedly made by hand, with chocolatiers changing the flavors of their pralines by adjusting their use of ingredients. It adds a personal touch to their creations, which might be lacking in other parts of the world.
Making the most of it
When Belgium realized the praline was making them a tourist hotspot, they began establishing themselves as the place to be for all chocolate lovers. Now, there are so many incredible shops devoted entirely to these treats, and these are some of the best.
Dumon Artisanale Chocolatier
Located in Bruges, this family-owned business is one you don’t want to miss out on. Not only do they offer an immense range of chocolates here, but they also give out free samples, so you know exactly what you’re buying. It’s no wonder this shop has been thriving for several decades now.
If you want to enjoy chocolate away from the crowds, then Yuzu is the place to visit in Ghent. This chocolatier isn’t as well-known as some others, but it does do amazing things with cocoa beans. That’s because they’re not afraid to experiment here, leading to some interesting Japan/Belgium flavor combinations.
Maison Pierre Marcolini
Considered by many to be the best chocolatier in the entire country, Maison Pierre Marcolini is absolutely the place to visit in Brussels. Marcolini himself puts his heart and soul into each chocolate that he creates, doing everything to perfection to ensure that what you buy is top quality.
Any dedicated chocolate lovers out there ought to visit Belgium at least once – it’s what your taste buds deserve.