Book tip December 2016: Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

There’s no stopping Regula Ysewijn aka Miss Foodwise! After previously releasing Pride and Pudding this year she’s back with another stunning book, honouring Belgian’s rich café culture. It’s once again a true gem with gorgeous shots that truly depict the passion and soul of Belgian cafés and their owners. Picking this book as my book tip for December came at the perfect time too as it was announced a few days ago that the Belgian beer culture is now declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.

Making and appreciating beer is part of the living heritage of a range of communities throughout Belgium. It plays a role in daily life, as well as festive occasions. Almost 1,500 types of beer are produced in the country using different fermentation methods. Since the 80s, craft beer has become especially popular. There are certain regions, which are known for their particular varieties while some Trappist communities have also been involved in beer production giving profits to charity. In addition, beer is used for cooking including in the creation of products like beer-washed cheese and, as in the case of wine, can be paired with foods to compliment flavours. Several organizations of brewers exist who work with communities on a broad level to advocate responsible beer consumption. Sustainable practice has also become part of the culture with recyclable packaging encouraged and new technologies to reduce water usage in production processes. Besides being transmitted in the home and social circles, knowledge and skills are also passed down by master brewers who run classes in breweries, specialized university courses that target those involved in the field and hospitality in general, public training programmes for entrepreneurs and small test breweries for amateur brewers.” – Unesco

This book tells the story of the ancient Belgian café’s. Traditionally Belgian Café’s would be managed by women, because the pubs were often in their homes and the men would go out to work at the factory or on the field while their wives would serve beer to the community. Very few of these traditional Café’s still remain and Regula has tried to visit them all, capturing them with her camera before they are lost forever, some have actually recently closed and Regula was probably the last to note down their history. In the book she will show you the traditional Café world and architecture, and tell you the stories that built the Café into more than just bricks and mortar.

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

Book Description

Food writer, photographer and graphic designer Regula Ysewijn runs the blog ‘Miss Foodwise‘. She is also the author of the book Pride and Pudding, which was highly praised by Jamie Oliver, Fiona Beckett and many others. She lives in Belgium but often works from London. She is a true Anglophile, but at the same time she also cherishes her Flemish roots. This book is an ode to Belgian popular culture. It is the result of countless visits to countless traditional Belgian cafes, where Regula talked to the regular guests and snapped many beautiful, touching photos. Throughout her book you can feel her love and passion for cultural ephemerality: things, places, and livelihoods in danger of fading. Regula wants you to know that these traditional Belgian cafes are much more than the brick and mortar that holds them together; they can be the epicentre of a community, standing strong even when their walls crumble and their decor ages, as they wait for the moment when the out-of-fashion becomes fashionable again.

“This book is an ode to Belgium’s traditional cafés, to their landlords and -ladies, and to the regular customers who have become part of the interior. It is also a plea to handle the café patrimony of Belgium with the greatest care. Because we have been taking these little cafés for granted for far too long and now, their existence has become fragile, despite the fact that they are an important part of our social and cultural heritage.

Food writer, photographer and graphic designer Regula Ysewijn writes the blog Miss Foodwise. She is also the author of ‘Pride and Pudding’, a book about the history of British puddings savoury and sweet. She’s a true Anglophile, and she often works for clients in London, but she lives in Belgium and cherishes her Belgian roots, in particular the iconic beer and café culture.

For this book Regula visited 45 traditional cafés in Belgium. From the oldest café in the country (it opened in 1515) to the oldest Belgian café landlady, Juliette, who is 96. She visited cafés with beautiful Art Deco interiors, and cafés with the charm and warmth of a living room. In each of these establishments she talked to the landlords and -ladies and to the people who have become part of the soul of these cafés, and she managed to capture all of this in beautiful, touching photographs.”

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

About the Author

Regula YsewijnEvery book I write is about preserving a heritage, because in the present day far too much importance is given to new and exciting things while the past holds a treasure of beauty that is often forgotten. When in Britain I think about the rich food culture so many Brits don’t know their country has, going centuries back and shaped by religious turmoil, invasions and politics. When in my home country Belgium I walk through the streets and everywhere I look I see lost cafés… There used to be a café – or what the English know as a ‘pub’ – on every street corner. Today, they fade, making way for trendy spots which can never capture the essence of a tight knit community. Landlords and ladies who become like mothers and fathers to those who frequent their café. The pictures on the walls telling stories of generations.

This book ‘Belgian Café Culture / Authentieke Belgische Cafés (in English and Dutch) is a plea to carefully handle the fragile café heritage of Belgium. For too long have we taken these little cafés for granted. Not enough have we stopped to think about their history and their relevance in our culture. They are part of our social and cultural patrimony in Belgium.

Book info

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Luster; 01 edition (3 Nov. 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9460581919
ISBN-13: 978-9460581915

You can buy this book on Amazon UK

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

Belgian Café Culture by Regula Ysewijn

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Sarah Jean
    December 2, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    What a culture and history! I admittedly didn’t/don’t know much about Belgian cafes but think I would really enjoy the book!

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ Happily the Hicks
    December 4, 2016 at 1:58 am

    Those pictures are gorgeous! And that book sounds so interesting. Thanks for sharing!

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