COVID-19 Provides a Silver Lining for Potato Lovers in Belgium
I've done a little traveling in my time and of all of the places I've visited, the one country I spent the least amount of time in was Belgium.
It was August of 1985 and I had three hours to kill in Brussels on my way from Amsterdam to Paris. And of all the things I could do while in Belgium there was only one that truly was on my 'Belgian bucket list' - eating Frites (don't call them French Fires) with a big glob of mayonnaise on top - because that's how they do it in the place that claims to be one of the first to offer up their special double-fried bintjes way back in the 1680s.
They're served all over Belgium, usually in a white cardboard cone, wrapped in paper, with that spoonful of mayo. Don't knock it until you try it!
But now, in the wake of the devastation that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has left in that region, there's a big problem brewing in Belgium - a glut of spuds.
With nobody going out to bars and restaurants because of lockdowns, there's a surplus of potatoes in Belgium. It's so bad that on CNBC this week the secretary-general of Belgian potato association's Belgapom, said around 750,000 tons of potatoes would probably not be processed.
The situation is so dire that officials are calling in Belgians to do their part and double their intake of Frites each week - from one helping to two - while the country awaits the reopening of restaurants June 8.
The hope is that the increased demand will pump some much-needed money back into the potato market. In mid-March, the price for a ton of potatoes in Belgium was about $146.
Last week it was $16.