Dear mister president, we are honoured and delighted that you are visiting our country. We would like to welcome you and hope you enjoy your stay. To facilitate your trip to the capital of Europe, we offer you a couple of little facts about Belgium.
Be mindful when you talk about our fries
A sensitive topic of conversation for Belgians are fries. Americans like to refer to them as ‘French Fries’ but they’re actually Belgian. It’s a bit of an insult when you call our national culinary pride French, just because some of us speak French.
Don’t be surprised when you see people riding their bikes in a field
Cyclo-cross is our national sport and one of the few sports we excel at internationally. It involves riding your bike as fast as possible in a field instead of on the road. If you want to stay on speaking terms with our prime minister, we recommend that you do not bring up the recent world championship in cyclo-cross, as we failed to win it this year. The Czech Zdeněk Štybar is the current world champion but he cheated, as he rides his bike on the road as well nowadays. In the clip above you can see some funny cyclo-cross tips from our former world champion, Bart Wellens.
We are world-renowned whistlers
Recently one of our most famous musicians decided to retire from music due to old age. We are talking about Jean Toots Thielemans of course. He is a jazz musician who was perhaps one of the best harmonica players of the century and he’s really good at whistling. In fact, he’s the one who invented the little tune for Old Spice. You know, the one at the end of all their funny commercials.
The world’s most famous journalist is Belgian
Mister President, if you are approached by a reporter with a ginger quiff and a small white dog, you’d better hope that you don’t have any dark secrets. Kuifje, or Tintin as you like to call him, has exposed crooks all over the world. He has even visited Chicago, your hometown. He had an argument with Al Capone there, but he beat the famous criminal. Steven Spielberg even made a blockbuster movie about our famous reporter.
The European President will probably read you some poetry
During your visit to Belgium you will meet Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Union. He is a Belgian politician who is a master in the Japanese art of haiku. President Van Rompuy is a big fan of the small Japanese poems so it is very likely he will have written one just for you. He wrote one after one of your previous visits: ‘Twee dagen weg. / De wereld is veranderd. / De fruitboom bloeit.’
We are the home of bad asses
You have probably heard of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The ‘Muscles from Brussels’ was the star in movies such as Bloodsport and Kickboxer. More recently he starred in The Expendables 2 alongside tough guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis. Van Damme is cool enough to do a split between two moving trucks. Should you find in trouble in Brussels, just call out his name and he’ll probably come and kick the bandits in the face.
Our beers are second to none
Our beers are easily among the best in the world and it’s a point of national pride. We’ll take the fact that a lot of breweries in the US make ‘Belgian-style’ beers as a compliment. While you’re in beerheaven, you should try a Duvel or a Rochefort, they are authentic Belgian-style. But know your limits Mister President, one beer too much and you might embarrass yourself with a silly dance.
Some cars in America have a little Belgian in them
Did you know that Henry Ford (center of this photograph), founder of the famous Ford Motor Company, has Belgian ancestors? Henry’s mother was the daughter of Belgian immigrants, who died when she was a child. We know your presidential state car is a Cadillac but still, you can give our small country a bit of credit for the invention of the affordable car.
You’ll be really close to our Metro office
Wednesday afternoon you will address a crowd of over 2.000 guests at the Bozar, also known as the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. Should you find some time in your schedule, you’re more than welcome to visit our editorial office in the Ravenstein Gallery. It’s just around the corner,last door on your right when you come in. We’ll have a coffee and a newspaper ready for you, if you want.