Describe yourself, your background and what you do today.
I studied literature and international politics and worked as a journalist for five years, with a focus on food, agriculture and climate change. One day, I wrote a piece on Little Food, Brussels’ first urban cricket farm and felt both inspired and frustrated at the same time. Compared with cows, pigs or chickens, crickets require a smaller fraction of land, water and food, and emit up to 60% less greenhouse gases. Plus, they’re delicious, which explains why they’re a part of African, Asian and Latin American cuisines. Meanwhile, they somehow disappeared from our plates here in Europe. That’s why we invented Kriket, Belgium’s first ever cricket bar. My sister and I spent months cooking up dozens of test batches to get as close as we could to the perfect snack: an irresistible mix of organic nuts, seeds, cereals and cricket flour. Healthy, delicious, cutting-edge and 100% Belgium.
How has Brussels shaped you as an individual as well as your professional activities?
Growing up in the northern outskirts of the city and attending a high school in Laeken, Brussels was always just around the corner. It wasn’t until I moved back to the city centre after my studies that I really dove into it, though. Even today, Brussels remains a mystery to me, but that’s precisely why I love this city. It forces you to (re)define your comfort zone over and over again. At its worst, it makes your head spin; at its best, it makes you feel wide awake. Especially in the buzzing Cureghem / Kuregem area where I live.
List three things you like the most about Brussels.
- First and foremost, its food! I’m totally into good food and Brussels is an exquisite place for food lovers. Buy bread at C’est si bon, go for finger-lickin’ good Greek spare ribs at Au Bon Coeur 3 and drink Portuguese wine at Chez Luis.
- Cultural indulgence. Trying to catch up with the cultural agenda is a slightly depressing yet beautiful challenge when living in Brussels.
- I know it sounds cliché, but I think it’s especially true in Brussels, the queen of eclectic capitals: a city is not defined by its borders or buildings, but by the random bunch of people who breathe the same air, albeit polluted. Meeting likeminded people is what fuels my day-to-day, yet the occasional unlikely encounters are the real sparks in my relationship with Brussels.
I love cycling through traffic jams in the pouring rain, because it makes your hot coffee afterwards twice as rewarding.
List three deciding factors that converted you to bicycle use.
- Freedom: you can pedal full-force or cruise smoothly; take shortcuts or detours and stop whenever you feel like it.
- Efficiency: there’s no faster way to get from point A to point B.
- That feeling when you’re waiting at a traffic light and you briefly close your eyes to feel the sun glowing on your face. It’s a blessing for us city cats who spend their days in an office or a café. Or the other way around, when you cycle through traffic jams in the pouring rain, because it makes your hot coffee afterwards twice as rewarding.
List three favourite bike routes in Brussels.
- The canal: the alpha and omega of cycling in downtown Brussels. Whether I’m heading up north to Vilvoorde or Mechelen, south to get lost in the picturesque hills of the Pajottenland, or even further down to the spectacular boat elevator at Ronquières, the canal always guides me back home.
- On Saturdays or Sundays, when traffic is slightly less oppressive, I love to stretch my legs and cycle all the way up to Altitude 100, through Forst / Vorst Park and the unrivalled Duden Park. Passing the beautiful Église Saint-Augustin / Sint-Augustinuskerk is like entering another world. All of a sudden, you find yourself gazing at an infinite row of extraordinary houses in the extremely lush Avenue Molièrelaan. On sunny days, I keep on pedalling all the way to Bois de la Cambre / Ter Kamerenbos. If I’m really feeling it, I push it a little bit further and immerse myself in the century-old peace and quiet of the Sonian Forest.
- When it comes to urban cycling, there’s almost nothing I enjoy more than night riding. I got hooked while living in Buenos Aires, where on summer night I would hit the streets with a couple of friends, wandering around the endless grid street plan.