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Asparagus Recipe Baked Into Belgian Legal Decree

Asparagus Recipe Baked Into Belgian Legal Decree
Clémence Guimier

"Preheat oven to 250 °C, add three teaspoons of salt into water, rinse and peel the asparagus and wait 30 minutes before cooking…" If you are craving asparagus au gratin after reading these lines, you can find the rest of the recipe online, on any number of cooking websites … Or, until a few days ago, smack in the middle of an official Belgian government decree.

An asparagus and Cantal cheese recipe was found, lost in the text of a new law on the price of medicine, published by the Federal Public Justice Service of Belgium. After further investigation, French daily La Voix du Nordfound that the cooking recipe belongs to Marmiton, a popular cooking website in France and Belgium.

If asparagus lovers might be pleased, Belgian daily La Libre reports that lawyers had mixed feelings about the odd copy-and-paste incident. "Sometimes, we see errors or glitches in a text. But a cooking recipe… Never!," says the anonymous lawyer who first shared the news to radio channel RTL.

Belgian justice officials tried to downplay the situation, explaining that the document isn't the official publication of the legislative text, only a database and has no standing legal value. The mistake has been fixed since then, before the final version of the document was approved.

Government lawyers apparently get a second chance — no such luck in the kitchen!

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Economy

Russian Diamonds Are Belgium's Best Friend — But For How Much Longer?

Belgium has lobbied hard for the past year to keep Russian diamonds off the list of sanctioned goods. Indeed, there would be a huge impact on the economy of the port city of Antwerp, if Europe finally joins with the U.S. and others in banning sale of so-called "blood diamonds" from Russia. But a 10th package of EU sanctions arriving this month may finally be the end of the road.

Photo of a technician examining the condition of a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium

A technician examining the condition of a diamond in Antwerp, Belgium

Wang Xiaojun / Xinhua via ZUMA Wire

Since Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has agreed to nine different packages of sanctions against Russia. With the aim to punish Moscow's leadership and to cripple the war economy, European bans and limits have been placed on imports of a range of Russian products from coal, gas and steal to caviar and vodka — were successively banned over the past 11 months.

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Still, one notable Russian export is a shining exception to the rule, still imported into Europe as if nothing has changed: diamonds.

Russian state conglomerate Alrosa, which accounts for virtually all of the country's diamond production (95%) and deals with more than one-fourth of total global diamond imports, has been chugging along, business as usual.

But that may be about to change, ahead of an expected 10th package of sanctions slated to be finalized in the coming weeks. During recent negotiations, with 26 of the 27 EU members agreeing on the statement that ALSROA’s diamonds should no longer be imported, the one holdout was not surprisingly Belgium.

The Belgian opposition to the ban is explained by the port city of Antwerp, where 85% of the rough diamonds in the world pass through to get cut, polished, and marketed. There are estimates that 30,000 Belgians work for Alrosa.

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