There are an estimated 650 cafes in the Belgian city of Ghent. But there is one that is more special than the rest – Cafe Folklore.
Neither big nor modern, this homely beer cafe is a place where regulars sing along to the jukebox, beer paraphernalia adorns the walls and the owner and his family sit down to lunch at a large round table near the front door. It isn’t the inside of Cafe Folklore that makes it so special, however. What makes this location stand out from the crowd is the historical treat that is cooked up on Saturdays by the owner Jacques.
Every Saturday Jacques prepares, based on a secret recipe he received from an elderly lady across the road, kroakemandels. These dark shiny pearls are deep-fried salty peas that at the turn of the 20th century were the height of food fashion. To make kroakemandels requires 48 hours of preparation time but their soft yet crunchy texture and earthy taste are well worth the wait.
So that you look like you know what you are doing when a fresh plate piled high with kroakemandels is delivered to your table, here are our top tips:
- Kroakemandels are best eaten warm, so don’t wait for them to cool off.
- Make sure that they have plenty of salt on them. You will usually receive a large, metal salt shaker at the same time that you receive your plate. Shake generously.
- The best way to eat the kroakemandels is with your fingers. Don’t be shy; just grab them and toss them into your mouth.
- Make sure you have a beer (or two) while you munch.
- Don’t forget, Jacques only makes the kroakemandels on Saturdays. Any other day and you are out of luck.