Art + chocolate = Brussels bliss

Haley Hoover Contributing Columnist

My original plan was to explore Brussels on day one and journey to nearby Ghent or Bruges on day two. Instead, my body insisted that I sleep all afternoon on day one and Pinterest research convinced me to stay in Brussels on day two. I don’t regret either of these decisions.

With only a very light agenda for the day I left my hostel in search of the Rene Magritte Museum.

Rene Magritte is not only known for his dozens of masterpieces, but also for his philosophical thinking and influenced on other painters such as Salvador Dali.

I thought it was very interesting that he never titled any of his own works. Instead he would invite his friends over for Sunday afternoon sessions where they would inspect his work and create the titles for them. Often the titles do not even match the theme in the composition. Even more intriguing is the fact that Magritte refused to have his paintings interpreted or psychoanalyzed. He said he was searching for the interconnectedness of things; between objects and their meaning and the feelings associated with such. He also said he didn’t know the reason for why he painted. I concluded that the artists entire life was a humorous contradiction which he lived boldly.

After gaining a healthy desire to study more on Magritte back at home, I walked out the doors of the museum and strolled around Belgium, gazing at lots of great things until I found myself at the doors of a Chocolate Museum. Here I met a school teacher from Colorado who was watching a free demonstration by a local Chocolatier. Together we learned how cocoa beans were harvested, fermented, dried and turned into powder for chocolate. We sampled the raw beans but they were intensely bitter.

The Chocolatier explained how chocolate was made—raw cocoa combined with sugar and butter. The more sugar and butter the less healthy but the more sweet, white chocolate being the worst in that it is sugar and butter in the complete absence of cocoa.

Later I walked through the rest of the museum and learned the history of chocolate, which comes from the Mayans and Aztecs who used cocoa beans as currency, medicine and offerings to the gods.

They also drank it with chili powder and pepper—a drink that symbolized human blood.

Chocolate was also used for a variety of things that it is still used for today such as antioxidant, stimulant, antidepressant and yes, even nutrition.

After eating a Belgium waffle I was completely full and exhausted. I roamed the streets leading back to the hostel and delightfully enjoyed parts of Brussels’s Comic Book Strip, which is a trail leading through the city with massive street murals in comic form.

This signifies Brussels’ history with comic books and comic creators. There was an entire museum for this that I looked upon, but my brain was full of art and chocolate and I simply needed a nap to end a day full of bliss.

Reach Haley Hoover at or view photos with her blog at

Haley Hoover Contributing Columnist Hoover Contributing Columnist
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