A Bit of Africa in the Heart of Europe

A Bit of Africa in the Heart of Europe

Brussels has it all.

Thanks to its history, central location in Europe and the influence of its melting-pot population, bilingual Brussels has countless eateries to choose from. Whether it’s souvlaki, tapas, couscous, dim-sum, sushi or just a traditional plate of moules and frites (yum!) there’s something for everyone. Chances are that if you’ve had it somewhere else in the world you can find it in one of Brussels’ nineteen municipalities. Seriously, go ahead. Try me.

(*Note: I will not vouch for the quality of all this food mind you. You’ve been warned).

However, for Inolerants and un-Intolerants alike seeking a different dining experience Inzia delivers on several accounts. Located in Matonge (the “African district” of Brussels) on Rue de la Paix, Inzia serves traditional Congolese fare that caters to large segments of the immigrant population while also managing to woo the average Belgian. Offering a 15€ lunch buffet during the week and a 25€ buffet on the weekends, patrons are invited to load up their plates with generous helpings of central African favourites like sombe (boiled cassava), loso na madesu (rice and beans), grilled fish, chicken cooked in moambe (peanut sauce), stewed beef, fried plantain (crazy huge bananas that are moderately sweet) and okra.

A plate full of DRC-inspired goodness.

Food from Sub-Saharan Africa – generally speaking – tends to be wonderfully savory and incredibly filling. Meals are made with the intention to carry you through to the next given that snacking (as defined in European and North American terms) isn’t the norm. Dietary staples include a lot of root vegetables – cassava a favourite – leafy greens, beans + pulses, beef, goat, fish and plantain that’s prepared in every possible fashion. Sauces are thick, creamy, smooth and some deliver fiery and pungent bursts of flavour with every bite. In this regard, the buffet at Inzia did not fail to meet our (myself and my fellow diners) expectations, which was evident since we all greedily went back for seconds.

Along with the buffet, we ordered sides of fufuplantain) to soak up the extra sauce on our plates. We finished off the meal by throwing back fresh juice that was made to order (I had a ginger lemon concoction that was wildly tart and sharp due to the large amounts of fresh ginger) and was perfect for an (un-typically) sweltering Belgian afternoon.

In all, the atmosphere was nice, the service good and the food was enjoyed by all. The only thing there was critical commentary on was the price tag, which is a bit steep for a buffet, especially given that the majority ingredients seem to be readily available in Matonge and greater Brussels. Anyhow, five of us ate: one Congolese, three who lived Sub-Saharan Africa for extended periods of time and one Great Lakes traveller, and we all sported smiles of satisfaction at the end of meal. It was nice to know that our taste for the rich stews, sticky doughs, tender meats/fish, spicy pili-pili and sweet fried fruits of Central Africa was perfectly preserved and it was great to remind our palates what it’s been missing all this time.