lotus speculoos

Sweet Tastes of Belgium: Chapter I – Speculoos

“I owe my first inkling of the problem of infinity to a large biscuit tin that was a source of vertiginous mystery during my childhood.”

― Jorge Luis Borges

Replacing the word “biscuit” with “speculoos” in this quote by Borges seems to work perfectly fine. Originated centuries ago, speculoos maintains a delicious mystery and an infinite level of irresistibility.

Speculoos is a kind of spiced shortcrust biscuit associated with Belgium and the Netherlands. The recipe in the two countries, however, differ as the Belgian speculoos is more intense regarding the taste of cinnamon.

Speculoos has been traditionally baked in the shape of St. Nicholas before the St. Nicholas Day for celebration, and this is where the mystery comes in. Although speculoos can be found in many shapes during the whole year now, it is still unknown if the origin of the name speculoos is actually linked to St. Nicholas. According to the Christian belief, St. Nicholas is the bishop of Myra who can see everything. Hence, speculoos may have driven from the word “speculator” referring to St. Nicholas.

The speculator theory is the widely accepted one, yet there is another possibility. In Latin, “speculum” means mirror. Speculoos, then, may as well refer to the images mirrored to decorate the biscuit.

Having covered the mystery issue, let’s dive into the infinity part. Until now, speculoos may seem to be just another type of delicious biscuit popular around the whole world. In truth, speculoos is a way of living in Belgium.

No matter where you go and what you do in Belgium, there will always be a form of speculoos present. Served as the sweet biscuit next to coffee, speculoos can also be the flavor in the cup of coffee. The list can actually go on forever if speculoos aims at enrichment: chocolate with speculoos, ice cream with speculoos, tiramisu with speculoos, cheesecake with speculoos…

On the way to reach infinity, speculoos in the spread form is almost as popular as the biscuit. Challenging chocolate spread and peanut butter, speculoos spread is available in every single supermarket in Belgium.


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