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Food Lion, in Belgium

August 9, 2010

I took a four day trip to Belgium last weekend with Q. We were going to stay with his friend, but plans fell through and we found ourselves posting on the “Last Minute Couch Requests Belgium!” forum on We stayed with an urban planner in Brussels, an international social worker in Antwerp, and a student in Gent whose English  was uncannily American, and when we asked where he learned English he said, “Star Trek.”

(Couchsurfing is about ten years old now. You sign up, fill out a profile. You talk about your interests in movies, books, and music; what kinds of people you like; what your couch is like (if you’re going to be hosting). You indicate whether you’d like to host people in your home, or whether you can show them around/meet for coffee. And that’s it! You pick a city, and start searching for couches, shopping for the perfect host. Some people want a host who will just give them a spare key and a spot on the couch, others prefer a host who will guide them around and get to know them. At the end of your stay, you leave your host a reference, visible on their couchsurfing profile, and the host leaves you a reference, so that everyone knows what sort of guest/host you are.  It sounds really dangerous, doesn’t it? “I’m going to go stay with an Internet Stranger in a foreign country!” But it works.)

I spent some time asking each of our hosts about the Flanders-Wallonia tensions, and about the different beers (we drank an awful lot of Trappist beer, and it was delicious). But I was most surprised to find FOOD LION IN BELGIUM.

Q and I were ambling down a tourist-choked avenue in Brussels, in search of a cold/cheap drink, and decided to look for a supermarket. I spied a sign with  lion on it, and thought of Food Lion. And I was right.

See! Delhaize Group is Food Lion’s parent company. Food Lion began in Salisbury as Food Town, but when Delhaize acquired the company in 1983, they slapped on the lion logo and decided that a name change from Food Town to Food Lion would only require changing two letters on their signs, and lo, Food Lion was born. And that is the story of how I saw a food lion in Belgium.

(This is not the story of how and why my dad has this general distrust of Food Lion. If you ask him to pick something up from Food Lion, his invariable response is, “Food Lion!? They’re not going to have [baked beans; cucumbers; whatever] at Food Lion!” And then he will go on to decry the low quality of their produce. My roommate, meanwhile, often likes to crow about the deals she gets at Food Lion, on things that I stupidly still buy at Harris Teeter. Maybe when I get home I will become an MVP shopper.)

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