(the market at the Gare du Midi in a rare break between showers)
I admit that the photo doesn't make the frites look particularly special, but they really were very good: it sounds like stating the obvious, but they had a very pure and intense potato flavour that wasn't at all overwhelmed by the fat in which they were fried, and the outside was neither too flabby or too crispy. I'd definitely have these again, and in the place Jourdan there's the added attraction of being able to eat them in one of the bars surrounding the square. Moreover, I was informed that the Maison Antoine mitraillette also compared favourably to other offerings. I should add that the cheese fricadelle (a deep fried, hockey puck-shaped piece of reconstituted 'cheese') that I also tried was disgusting, but I should probably be glad I didn't have the more usual meat version.
More wholesome fare was on offer at the Sunday morning market at the Gare du Midi. I'm enjoying discovering the markets of Brussels and this was the most extensive I've been to so far, offering more discount shampoos, loose-fit clothing and succulent-looking fresh produce than I've seen in a while. I was tempted by the fruit and vegetables (sold to a constant refrain of 'uuuun euuurooo'; if anyone from Oxford is still reading, this is clearly the Brussels equivalent of the Gloucester Green 'pound a' baked bananas' cry), but I had come in search of Moroccan pancakes, which I'd heard were highly recommended.
It took me a while, but eventually I found the stall in question (under the railway bridge itself). One of the staff was rolling out thick, square pancakes and cooking them on a grill, while others sold them as they were or took orders for a kind of makeshift restaurant. Those eating there could choose a savoury crêpe filled with olives, tomato and cheese for 4.5E or a sweet version with honey and cheese for 3E, but other people were asking for one 'with everything' so I followed suit.
It doesn't look like much, but trust me, what you see below was truly delicious. Layers of delightfully greasy, flaky pastry (not a million miles away from an English pancake, but thicker and saltier) were wrapped around a delectable combination of soft cheese and gently warmed honey, with a generous helping of olives and semi-dried tomato adding some vitamins and an important savoury note. Not often does a dish cover all main flavours and food groups so successfully . The only drawback was that it was extremely messy to eat (I also ended up with a cup of mint tea, which was authentically Moroccan and therefore too sweet for me, but it proved a useful fingerbowl). But that's street food for you, I suppose.
1 place Jourdan
Gare du Midi
(I don't think the stall has a name, but the chap in charge looks a tiny bit like Rupert Graves)