You wouldn’t have known it to be a bakery. That building on the corner, about a block and a half from the Junior Huis, looked like a mechanic’s garage from the outside. Large garage doors. Vans that were perpetually outside. I passed it nearly every day on my way to mass or my college–at all hours–and never did I smell the sweet scent that lay within.
It wasn’t until a few months into the semester that we realized the Aldi bread could not compare with the bread vending machine. A bread vending machine. Next to the bakery’s garage door was a vending machine that with the magic touch of a Euro would give the gift of an entire loaf of freshly baked bread. It took us a while to get over the obvious contradiction of fresh + vending machine, but it soon became apparent that when attached to a bakery, the contraption was heaven-sent.
We heard through locals that Mondays were pastry night. Strange things happen in Belgium, so we just rolled with it. The event required lining up outside the bakery shortly before 7pm. No sooner. No later. Bring your own bags and/or boxes. And your Euros. The day-old these-didn’t-sell-at-the-weekend-market pies, cakes, and pastries would be obtained with only a coin. At 7pm the line of people is allowed access to the garage. At this point a person should fill bags with the delicious pastries as soon as possible. The old ladies will push you if you are weak. If you don’t take them–someone else will! It is worth filling your bag even if you are unsure of what you’re buying. I usually had no idea what I was buying.
Once we took home what was thought to be a chocolate pie. Turns out it was fig. Or prune. Or, more importantly, it was NOT chocolate. But no matter, it was only a Euro.