Saturday, June 28, 2008


AKA the Chicken Truck

I will post more about my family's visit to Europe, but I wanted to post a little something we experienced this morning as we visited my neighborhood Farmer's Market.

I've been in Brussels for over a year now, and I was shocked, appalled and shamed to realize the other day that I had yet to blog about the chicken truck. This is a terrible, terrible dereliction of duty on my part, because the chicken truck is the very centerpiece of my existence here, the source of all that is good, holy and true in Belgium.

Like many a sacramental object, the chicken truck's origins are mysterious. I don't know where it comes from or who owns it (although I believe it might be the Roi de Poulet, since that is what is often emblazoned on the side of the truck, and it would make sense that royalty was somehow involved, because the chicken truck, like many kings, rules by divine right).

My pity for those benighted souls among you who have yet to experience the chicken truck is as boundless as the sea. Allow me to enlighten you: It's a large tractor trailer that goes to pretty much every Belgian Market. The sides of the trailer roll up, and inside (cue the choir of angels) are three (sometimes four) greasy faced men attending, like the vestal virgins before the holy fires of Rome, to row upon row of rotisserie chicken. The birds are skewered and slowly rotating on the back wall of the chicken truck.

Now, pay attention, because this is the crucial part, as they rotate, the top bird's fat will drip onto the chickens below and so on, and so on. The chickens are thus thoroughly basted in delicious, mouth-watering chicken fat. That's not the end of it, though, because the chicken truck also sells potatoes. These spuds are placed in the bottom pan, BENEATH all of the chickens... That's right, the potatoes actually COOK in the scrumptious, delicately spiced chicken fat.
When this process has been described to some people they have responded with incomprehension and even revulsion: "Ew, you buy your chicken from a truck!" or worse yet, "Sounds greasy." These people are heretics and fools. They are ignorant cretins who know not of what they speak. The chicken truck's magical aroma will lure you across two city blocks and for the ten minutes it takes you to scarf down the chicken and potatoes you will experience the food of the gods.

As your teeth sink through the ever so slightly, spiced chicken skin, and meet the exquisitely tender, moist flesh of the bird you will float away on clouds of delight and joy. To eat at the Chicken Truck, my friends is to taste ambrosia, and to experience, for one brief moment, the immortality of Zeus, Thor and Ra himself.

NOTE: In an effort of full disclosure, I am borrowing this posting about the Chicken Truck from another girl who lives in Brussels. I chose to use her words as she described the Chicken Truck experience PERFECTLY! I could not have said it any better!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Family

My family made it over to Europe safe and sound last week. After getting over jet-lag, we left for London then Paris and last night we made it back to Brussels. I think they are in culture overload and exhausted, but we have had so much fun!

While I am sorting through over 350 pictures, here is one of my favorites! More to come later!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Cheerful Giver

2 Corinthians 9:6-12

6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.

Monday, June 16, 2008

3 days and counting!

My family arrives on Thursday afternoon and I could not be more excited! As expected, these days are passing by slowly! Ahhh, it is only Monday!! :-)

I know we will have a fantastic visit! This will be Mom's 3rd trip...can you believe that? She had never been to Europe before until this opportunity came up for me! How cool is that?! This will be the first trip over for my Dad and sister! It makes me so happy to be able to share this incredible experience with them! We have plans to visit London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels (of course), and any other cities we can squeeze in along the way. Mom and Dad will be here for over 2 weeks, so they will definitely get to see a lot!

Now, they just have to get all the things I have asked them to bring over for me packed and through Customs! This should be interesting!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Vienna, Austria

My trip to Vienna started on Friday afternoon as I was leaving Budapest. I decided to take the train (since you know my love of train travel!). This train was different than any other I had been on before. It had little compartments with 6 seats in each compartment. It was really kinda cool! I was able to get on an earlier train than my reservation, so I did not have a reserved seat. As I walked down the hallway trying to find a compartment (and company I was willing to be with for 3 hours), I wondered into one compartment with 2 guys. Come to find out, these guys were from Belgium (one from Brussels and the other from Ghent). How ironic!! Anyway, it was an enjoyable ride as they filled me in on things in Brussels and Belgium that I had not experienced yet and have now added to my list!

My tour of Vienna started on Saturday morning. The whole city still seemed so royal. The buildings were huge and and gorgeous. The streets and sidewalks are spotless and sparkling. I found myself asking, "Who lived here again and what did they do?" The Habsburg dynasty lasted 630 years (from around 1288 to 1918). Through marriage they basically acquired all of Europe at one point. The famous Marie Antoinette came from this family. It seems like their favorite emperor and empress was Franz Joseph and Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie (also known as "Sisi").

My first stop was the Schloss Schonbrunn palace, home of the Habsburg's. It reminded me a lot of Versailles, maybe just as big and just as extravagant. The Schonbrunn still has a lot of original furniture and personal items belonging to Franz Joseph and Elisabeth. As you finished one room and thought there couldn't be anything better, you walk into the next and start gawking and babbling all over again. Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures inside so you'll just have to see it for yourself some day. It is amazing.
My breakfast buddy...
Apple strudel is the must-have dessert in Vienna! It was fantastic!
After Schonbrunn, I headed to the Holfburg Palace complex. Today, the former private apartments of the imperial family in the Imperial Palace are open to tour. Emperor Franz Joseph and his Elisabeth lived here with their children and the entire royal household. I am a little confused why they lived in Holfburg as well as Schonbrunn, but maybe one was the country home and one was the city home. Anyway, from this location they represented the realm of the Habsburg and directed its politics. Included in the tour was a ridiculous collection of court silver and china. I now understand what a butler pantry really means. There were several rooms used to store forks, plates, etc. It's something that has to be seen to really understand.
The utensil collection! Wow, think there was enough!?
Only one of MANY china choices!
Check out this slightly large and ridiculous centerpiece! This is only 1 half of it...yes, there was more!
Only part of the silver collection they used for a casual dinner...
Next I was off to the Sisi Museum, which tells the story of the Empress Elisabeth (nicknamed Sisi). That was very interesting and helped me enjoy what I saw in the apartments after. She was apparently always on a diet and had exercise equipment in her dressing room (it's still there). She was killed by a nail file (stabbed in the heart) in 1898 at the age of 60. Sisi's story is really fascinating.

After Holfburg, I had tickets to a performance at the Spanish Riding School to see the "dancing horses". The best way to describe it is a ballet with horses. The room was like a ballroom with a sunken floor covered with a carpet of dirt. I thought no one took better care of their dirt than in Major League stadiums, but let me assure you that they could learn a thing or two from these guys. It was immaculate - it was hardly a room for horses. They use Lipizzaner horses, which as they age turn pure white. They are beautiful.
So, at this point in my day I had covered a lot of ground and saw most of the must see things in Vienna. As I was walking around the city just taking it all in! Then, I ran across a movie theater with a sign outside saying "Sex and the City"! If you know me well, you know that I LOVE the show Sex and the City and have been dying to see the movie! I walked in and asked when the next show was the guy told me in 5 minutes! Perfect!!! I said, give me a ticket and I sat myself down and saw a FANTASTIC movie!!!
Seeing the movie just made a perfect day even better! What a great memory!

Since I saw everything I wanted to see on Saturday, I spent most of Sunday just walking around the city and enjoying the view! Like I said before, Vienna is beautiful and it was nice to walk around and take it all in! German is the language of Vienna and actually called "Wien" in German. Here are a few pics from my walk!

Beautiful architecture!
Vienna Opera
Neues Rathaus (Town Hall)
Euro 2008 was being hosted by Austria and Switzerland this year so they were getting ready for the big event. By the way, Euro 2008 is a MAJOR soccer tournament...nope, I had no idea what it was until I asked!
Part of the Holfburg Complex
I told you the streets were pristine!Click here to see all my pictures from Vienna.