If you love indulging your palate while travelling then Belgium has a number of options to satisfy your taste buds. But be warned, they may leave your clothes feeling slightly tighter then when you arrived in the country. Chocolate? Check. Frites covered in mayonnaise? Check. Waffles and whipped cream? Check. Beer? Oh yes please! You can’t walk very far in any Belgian city without stumbling across a shop that serves any of these options (bonus when you find a place that serves them together!). But if you’ve got a serious sweet tooth, be sure to make a stop in Ghent to try the local candy – cuberdon.
Amidst the buzzing area of Groentenmarkt in Ghent’s historic centre, you’ll find little bicycle-pushed stands filled with purple coloured delights. These cone shaped candies are called cuberdons or neuzeke, the Dutch word for little noses. They have a hard exterior and a gooey interior and have a raspberry taste.
The creation of the cuberdon actually happened by accident. Back in the late 19th century, a Ghent pharmacist was experimenting with ways to prolong the shelf life of drugs as many of the medications were in the form of syrup at the time. After one failed attempt, he noticed the batch had created a hard shell while the interior remained in syrup form. It was then thought that this technique would bode well for the manufacturing of candy.
Although the cuberdon is made with gum arabic, sugar, glucose, and starch, many believe that they also hold medicinal properties. Check out this video by the Ghent Tourism Board to see it in action:
Historically, the cuberdon has had a raspberry flavour, but in recent years, candy manufacturers have been making cuberdons with all types of flavours including mango, lemon, anise, lavender and even champagne. You can now find them in specialty candy shops around the country and only recently one Belgian company has started exporting them internationally.
But nothing compares to picking them up street-side from one of the vendors in Groentenmarkt and enjoying them on a sunny spring day. Prices range from 2 Euro to 5 Euro depending on the quantity you buy.