Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

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Food full of life in Antwerp

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Antwerp in Belgium.  My preconception of the place was that it was a fairly industrial, uninteresting city, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth.  It was a really lovely city full of pleasant streets, beautiful buildings and lots of interesting individual cafes and restaurants.

One cafe in particular really made an impression on me. A raw food cafe called Eten vol Level, which I am guessing translates as something like food full of life.

Eten Vol Leven

Now I have to admit that although I have heard loads of great stuff about raw food and I know that there are some pretty huge health benefits of eating raw, I was actually quite scared of eating at this cafe.  It might sound silly, but I grew up hating salad, and I wasn’t that keen of veggies either, so raw food is an idea that really pushes me out of my comfort zone, even though I think it is a great idea in theory.

Anyway, Vinu was pretty determined that we should have the guts to try and I am glad that we did.  Talking to the owners Tom and Sarah we heard about how they had discovered raw food in a restaurant in South America and that it excited them so much not just because it felt healthy, but because the actually enjoyed eating it.  It was delicious!

They started their cafe to give people the same experience, and suddenly I was excited to find out if you could really have a raw meal that wasn’t just a bowl of salad.

The first time we went was a bit of a cop out (yes, we went more than once!).  We had two different types of home made breakfast cereal, which were creatively made using a dehydrator and quality ingredients like buckwheat, cocoa nibs, dates and millet, served with fresh home made almond milk.  It was really delicious and no doubt a lot more nutritious than a bowl of Shreddies with milk.

With our confidence a bit higher, we returned a few days later for lunch.  I ordered “Courgette Pasta” and Vinu ordered a wrap.  We could see someone eating the wrap and it looked good, but we hadn’t seen the pasta and couldn’t figure our how you would make raw pasta.

And then it arrived.

Raw Courgette Pasta

Now we were even more confused!  It actually looked like a really nice bowl of pasta, so how was it raw?

Only when I started to tuck in did I actually realise that the pasta itself was finely sliced strips of raw courgette.  It really was as good as it looked and filled me up without making me feel bloated and stodgy like pasta so easily can.  Tom explained that he slices the courgette using a mandolin, and by going with the grain of the courgette it retains its strength in long slices.

It is rare that a dish has a big impact on the way you think about food, but this dish really got me thinking.  And several weeks later I am still thinking!

The wrap was also really nice and was filled with fresh leaves and fruit, which was another new concept to us that worked surprisingly well.

Eten vol Level was a really lovely place to spend some time and enjoy a really new food experience, and we will surely visit again if ever we are back in Antwerp.

Now we just need to pluck up the courage to try making some similar things at home.

Raw Food Wrap


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