Wednesday, October 05, 2011


For a Jew, I have no Jewdar. For a native New Yorker and longtime student of French, I have no gaydar. What I do have, however, is Belgdar.

This afternoon, I decided to make the best of needing to go allll the way to Rite-Aid (success, at last!), up the various hills on the bike, and stop by Bon Appetit, which is in the same mawl as the Rite-Aid, to get more Dutch sprinkles, maybe check out the Passendale selection.

And sure enough, at the cheese counter, I see a man who I immediately put together must be the Belgian responsible for the pervasive Belgian-ness of the ostensibly Franco-gourmet establishment. Was it the glasses? The accent? The proximity of Passendale? Whatever the case, I figured if anyone in any shop in the U.S. would know where to find Sirop de Liège, the elusive Belgian syrup Jo and I are always bringing back in our luggage, this was the guy.

He of course knew immediately what I was talking about, and they'd apparently stocked it there for years, but it's no longer exported to the U.S. What they have now, he explained, is the Dutch version, which instead of being apple and pear, is just pear. There was something in his tone that told me that the Dutch version would be adequate but a disappointment. This, in turn, confirmed for me that the establishment's Low Countries influence is indeed Belgian, rather than Dutch. Further confirmation. Further still.

There is probably no skill in this world more useless than the ability to spot a Belgian, and please, save the cracks about getting a PhD in the humanities. But this is, it seems, a skill I have.


Nick said...


Soon Belgium shall not even be a real country, and then we will have the last laugh.

Phoebe said...

Then we'll have to say I have Flemdar. Which sounds... odd. But the man's apparently from really near where Jo is in Belgium. Maybe my -dar just extends to that region.