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Belgium in Brief: Endives for Expats

I’ll be the first to admit that when I initially moved to Belgium, I had no idea what an endive was.

The first time I was presented with what I thought was cooked lettuce with ham and a white (cheese?) sauce, I was confused and too polite to ask what I was eating.

I’m from the country that eats haggis, after all, I have no room to judge.

The second time I was given it, I didn’t even realise it was the same thing: a bitter green vegetable mixed with mayo, avoided by half the table with a hatred more commonly seen when someone brings out sprouts.

The final time I had it, it was a more pure iteration, braised. I didn’t like it.

Ok, so that pretty much cemented it for me – I don’t like endives, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

What I do like, however, is places remembering their roots. That’s where this was all going,

The humble endive is now officially part of Brussels’ inventory of intangible cultural heritage, which is a totally non-covid related story I want you all to read.

Then, I want to know:
If you like endives, what am I missing?
Am I cooking them wrong, and could you send me a better recipe?

Let @johnstonjules (me) know on Twitter.

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1. Avoid travelling to the coast tomorrow after heavy crowds today, SNCB says

The Belgian Railways (SNCB) is advising people not to go to the coast on Tuesday and Wednesday due to the high number of commuters in the stations, especially from Brussels.

The company is recommending a less busy destination. Read more.

2. Cheat Sheet: Belgium’s ‘testing strategy 2.0’

Belgium is now officially entering the so-called “testing strategy 2.0,” in an effort to better identify cases of coronavirus within the country, announced Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke during a press conference on Monday.

The updated strategy will have three “lines of defence,” which will help Belgium control the coronavirus, on top of the regular existing measures such as keeping your distance, wearing a face mask and only keeping one close contact. Read more.

3. Belgium will reach 1,000 patients in ICU by 10 April at this rate, warns Van Gucht

If the figures continue to increase at this rate, Belgium will see 1,000 coronavirus patients in intensive care by 10 April, health officials stated during a press conference on Tuesday.

Belgium’s coronavirus figures “are in the red,” and the pressure on the hospitals’ intensive care units is increasing rapidly, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Read More.

4. Police to be deployed at Brussels’ largest park following announcement of fake festival

Police officers will be present at the Bois de la Cambre, the city’s largest park, on 1 April and 2 April following an announcement on Facebook of a festival dubbed “La Boum”, which claims will have internationally renowned DJs on the line-up.

Although the Brussels-Ixelles police zone has communicated both online and on social media that the event was “unauthorised and fake”, there is still a risk of people gathering, the mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close said on Monday evening. Read More.

5. Self-tests should not be used as free pass for concerts or to travel, expert says

Self-tests are not 100% reliable and should not be used as a free pass to attend concerts or travel, according to microbiologist and member of the testing task force Herman Goossens.

It was announced last week that these tests, with which you can check whether you have the coronavirus yourself and receive the results in 15 minutes, will be sold in pharmacies in Belgium from 6 April, but these tests are not entirely conclusive, Goossens said. Read more.

6. Johnson & Johnson starts vaccine deliveries in Europe on 19 April

Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson will start delivering vaccines to European countries from 19 April, the company announced on Monday.

On 11 March, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was the fourth one that received the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). It only needs one dose to be effective, instead of the two doses required for the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca. Read More.

7. Two Belgian F-16s intercept Russian bombers over North Sea

Two Belgian F-16s took off on Monday morning from Florennes Air Base to intercept Russian bombers approaching the Dutch airspace over the North Sea.

The two fighter jets intercepted the Russian Tupolev Tu-142s north of the Dutch coast and the Frisian islands of Terschelling and Ameland, the Belga news agency reports based on military sources. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times