Belgium Moments: Slagroom and Battle Royale

In the last week, I have some memorable – what I have deemed – Belgium moments because only these things can happen in Belgium.

The first moment is my favorite. Its been an amazingly nice week of weather. That’s right, in Belgium you get nice weather (20+) in March and September, but wet greyness in the other 10 months of the year. Anyways, this is not the particular moment I’m talking about.

So it was a warm evening after dinner. Honey Bear and I went for a stroll to get some ice cream for dessert. I stood in front of the deep buckets full of creamy rainbows. I couldn’t decide within a minute or two so I signaled for the older couple behind me to please go ahead. Yes, this is a total Canadian niceness move and nobody else would offer this same courtesy in return, but I didn’t want to be pressured into making a choice too quickly. I had to find the perfect combination because I wanted two scoops. Did I mention that I LOVE ice cream.

What can a girl do when faced with this?

So the older lady orders first and then the guy orders. I wasn’t paying attention because I was focused on making a good selection. But I did hear the man, say “slagroom“. The poor ice cream lady (French) had no idea what he was asking for. And this is where the moment happens:

Me: “Oh, um, creme de, uhh… Well, in English its whipped cream.”

Older guy: “Whip…whip cream?”

Me: “You know whipped cream,” I say making a whipping motion of stirring cream in a bowl.

Ice cream lady: “Oooooh yes” and she goes to put whipped cream on top of his ice cream.

Old guy: “French, Flemish, English, too many languages in this city” he counts on his fingers.

Me: *laughs* “yeah”. All the while I’m saying a much more enthusiatic YEEEAAH in the inside because I knew a Flemish word and was able to “translate it” into English and this helped someone.

It just goes to show that if its food and delicious, I will learn the words in a foreign language. But I’m better at learning Flemish because its just more fun. Slagroom. Sounds exactly how its spelt – with the Canadian/American pronunciation of the the letter “A” – “ay” not the British “ah”. Slaaag-room. It was a triumphant Belgium moment!

Belgium moment #2 came in on a quiet afternoon. Laying on a towel in the long green grass with the sun warming my skin, I was at peace. For me, nothing tops sunbathing and reading a good book at the same time. Its probably my favorite past time and if you add an ice cream into the mix (and an ice tea to stay hydrated in the heat), I’m the happiest girl ever.

So I was at Bois de la Cambre park (I think its French for Cambre Forest). Anyways, there I was eyes closed approaching sleep being guided by the sun’s warmth on my skin and then I hear music and chanting and banging noises.

I wait a moment, too relaxed to check it out, maybe it will pass. It gets louder. I lean up on my elbow and squint at the distraction behind me. I see a big group of people marching and holding someone seated on what looks like a throne above their heads. The king is coming? Then I see another group of people coming dressed in bright orange and they are also carrying a “king”. Ok, its weird, but not unexpected in Belgium. I lay back down and close my eyes.

Then more music and chanting that sounds more aggressive than excited. I look back again and see an army of burgundy, one in black, one in hot pink (mostly girls) and one in what looks like potato sacks. It’s Battle Royale.

Each army – appearing to be mostly manned with teenagers – set up on either side of the green space between the trees. Its hot, so they take to the trees to chant and their leaders rile them up for the big war. In the meantime, a guy comes over and says in french that for “votre securite” (my safety) that I better move. Ok, epic battle is impending. I notice that they have no swords or other weapons. What will they fight with? It was starting to get interesting so I moved over to a safer patch of green and then I waited. What happened next was something I never thought I would see in real life.

Teenagers charged and ran at each other. They tried to slap and push their way through the enemy lines to steal something. Some tried to steal the king, others tried to steal the king’s throne, and others stole…cases of beer??? The red team looked like they were of age to drink and they prepared for the battle by downing a case of beer before someone must of said “go!” Then the potato-sack kids tried to steel a flat of beer, I’m talking 24 at least, the red team pulled their shirts and flung them to the ground and then took their beer back.

Armies in action

Potato sack army

Potato sack army

First of all, what are these kids doing out of school on a Thursday afternoon? (I had the day off work – I wasn’t skipping). Second, growing up in Canada, this type of activity would be forbidden due to its dangerous nature and the fact that I’m sure there were injuries with all the physical flinging, pushing, slapping and whatever else was going on. I saw them throw what looked like flour in their opponents faces, they squirted mayo and ketchup on people’s heads. I think I even saw one guy with either mud or chocolate smeared all over his face. I couldn’t tell if its was supposed to be war paint or it was a “wound” from the battle. Third, there was beer in play, which just adds a whole new level of inappropriateness to it.

Flour power

Finally, the battle ended with one army – I’m not sure if they were victorious – but they stripped down to their underwear, I’m talking speedo-style underwear for the men (they are European) and the girls in their underwear jumping into the disease-infested pond. Ok, so I’m not sure if there are actually diseases in the pond, but its so dirty and gross that I wouldn’t jump into it for money.

pre-communal bathing

Photo: pre-communal bathing

If you want to get a better visual of what I witnessed, it seemed a kin to the battle scene from the movie “Role Models” except instead of swords and shields, they used fists and condiments.

Role Models (2008) Universal Pictures (Uploaded on YouTube by  on Oct 11, 2009)

Have you ever had a moment you witnessed where you thought it must be something from a movie? Or any other weird/interesting/fun moment you want to share specific to a certain country or city?

Advertisements

About Nicole Basaraba

Nicole Basaraba is a Canadian writer focusing on topics of travel (Mondays), writing and literature (Wednesdays), lifestyle (Fridays) and her experiences living in the capital city of Europe: Brussels, Belgium.
This entry was posted in Lifestyle, Living in Brussels and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Belgium Moments: Slagroom and Battle Royale

  1. thesweetkitten says:

    Hi Nicole!
    I am Flemish myself and I teach Dutch, but it’s not often that I hear foreigners saying that it’s “fun” to learn Dutch! So, thx!

    • I think Dutch is fun. The words are so different and interesting. i can’t say that I know many, but I have learned a few just by reading restaurant menus, signs and visiting Flemish areas.

      Hope to see you around. 🙂

  2. Nicole, that ice cream display is as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen. Delicious! As for strange moments out of movies…I’ll have to think on that and get back to you. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s