The Hop Sprout, One of Belgiums Favourite Vegetables

by : Tania Machowska

The hop sprout is not only one of Belgium's most favourite region products it is also one of the most expensive vegetables in the world. It is a strange vegetable, and looking (lets you think of soya beans) at it doesn't seem to be worth to pay about 200 euros a kilo in the beginning of the season.

There has been a time, so our ancestors say, that you couldn't pass a field that wasn't cultivated with hop, hop was everywhere from Brussels to Aalst and from Aalst to Brussels. These days hop is imported from the Eastern European countries. Napoleon Bonaparte is to blame when you consider that he forced the farmers to change their hop cultivation into grains as his army needed to survive more on grains then hop. Before that period Belgium, or more the Aalst and Brussels area was known as the

The hop sprout is related to the hemp and cannabis. The season doesn't start before the end of January, the high season is situated at the end of March beginning of April. It is rare to still find a hop farmer as it is a dirty and very hard job to grow hop.

Hop only grows at sand loam ground, such as the Popperinge, Asse and Aalst area just behind the capital city Brussels. Hop is picked just above the ground, they originate from the root of the growing hop. Cleaned and cut, only the crispy part (about 5 to 7cm) is packed up in a wooden storage, every storage is 250 grams.

Just as any other vegetables, meet, fish,"the product find its way to the auction where an auctioneer gives them a quality label of first to excellent choice.

The waiting for it, the small yield and short duration leads to a true spring celebration when the first sprouts appear.

Hop is a true delicacy and not available in just every restaurant. Comme chez soi is one of the restaurant who serve the delicacy Hop. A classic combination is poached egg and house smoked salmon, with a typical Belgium Affligem Trappist beer.