Chance Meeting


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Brussels has an area of narrow meandering streets with restaurants set cheek by swelling jowl. The summer warmth brings out a raft of tables, two to four deep, in a pedestrian cacophony of chatter, clank, clink, and chew. All venues are charming, but most are gastronomically mediocre. Fortunately, Rod is a hungry ferret at dusk, and he rooted out what proved to be one of the best of the lot 20 minutes after we enjoyed a drink in the Grand Place, a stunningly beautiful and expansive plaza that serves as the city’s primary social hub.

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While enjoying a Belgian brew before dinner (the best beer in the world comes from this little nation), we noticed a foursome a table away speaking in English tongues from opposite sides of the pond—the Brits professorial, the Americans animated, both interesting. When we left the bar to forage, there was no reason to think we would see them again among the crush of tourists and partiers who jostle each other in the EU’s capital. So it was with some surprise that they chose to eat at an adjacent table only minutes after we sat for dinner. This we soon learned was only partially coincidence as the Brits were expat Brusselonians (or whatever one calls them, quote me at your peril) whose local knowledge had limited their choices to the few quality restaurants.

During dinner we six got into a loud and friendly conversation about food, politics, personal origins, and Bruce Springsteen, the last because they four had tickets to a concert with The Boss, Blondie, Santana and others, to be held outside Brussels on the following night:
Wrecking Ball Tour
Europeans, we learned, think that Americans are well-travelled; Americans, that Belgium is as dull as Hartford. The Atlantic, by comparison with these misunderstandings, is a narrow gulf.


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