Now, who doesn’t love a plate of French fries? It’s perfect for a snack or as a side dish. And if you’re a Brit, you will recognize this dish as chips. French fries are a popular staple for many fast food vendors.
Many claims that their fries as the best with secret techniques and spices. But what makes this potato dish so popular? Is it because of the fast food vendors? Or something different? Let’s find out and see what makes this piece looks exceptional and become a favorite for many.
Surprise! It’s not French
Even though it bears the name French fries, the one we know today doesn’t come from France. During the first World War, American Troops in Europe were running out of food as the nearby river was frozen. The locals were cutting the available potatoes and deep-fried them. This technique is what the troops copied and enjoyed.
And because they were in Southern Belgium with predominantly French speakers, the troops innocently called the dish French fries.
Another history mentioned that in the 1700s, the city of Paris has hundreds of street vendors selling fries. Thomas Jefferson who was the American Minister for Europe encountered some of these vendors and had a taste. He became infatuated and took the dish back home to the states. Of course, he called it French fries. For some reason, the dish didn’t gain popularity until early 1900. And during the massive boom of drive-ins and early fast food joints in the 1950s and 1960s, french fries became the dish we know today.
Even this history also has some questionable details. For starters, the Spaniards were the first people who encountered potatoes when they colonized central and south America. In that sense, the street vendors in Paris could be Spaniards. But why does nobody calls it Spanish Fries?
Whether you believe World War I history or Thomas Jefferson’s one, it’s safe to say that French fries indeed came from the area where the people speak French.
Belgium and Fries
The classic American misnomer prompted Belgians to reclaim the dish as theirs. In 2003, they petitioned UNESCO to call fries Belgium’s national heritage. Their main argument is that they have the largest frikots per capita.
Frikots is how Belgians call their fries and the vendors. And you should know that ketchup is optional for them. Belgians prefer to enjoy their fries with mayonnaise.
And to show how serious they are, Belgium also has the first and only Fries museum. You can learn a lot about the history of fries and how they have evolved from the humble beginning.
Unique ways to enjoy fries
French fries are famous all over the world, and that means different countries have different methods to enjoy them. Yes, most of them are about having fries with various sauces from curry to chili and many others. But some areas take the extra step to enjoy fries.
Nachos and Chilli Fries
The classic nachos use tortilla chips as the base before having layers of cheese, jalapenos, and sometimes chili poured on top. But in some parts of Texas, they swap the tortilla with fries. These loaded fries are similar to the traditional nachos, with the only difference in the carb unit.
Fish and Chips
Please don’t ask why Brits called fries chips since they have unique names for various other things. Now, fish and chips is a dish that is both simple and also dependent on each other. You can’t have the beer-battered deep-fried fish with mashed potato or other cuts. Some may accept wedged potatoes or even baby potatoes, but the fries combo is still the most popular one.
Tanzania in East Africa has a unique way to enjoy fries. When most countries choose to have classic cuts as a side dish, Tanzanians will put the fries in the main course. This Chipsi Mayai is an omelet with fries mixed in and fried together with the egg.
The catamaran is a popular snack in the Netherland. It consists of their skinless sausage, frikandel, with fries on both sides. Together, they look like a catamaran boat. The same sausage is also a popular choice to have with a bun. But most Dutch prefer catamaran to enjoy with their beers.
Another thing is the Dutch have another way to enjoy their fries. They will use their unique zesty mayonnaise with the fries.
This Canadian haven is similar to chili fries or the TexMex nachos above. They put the fries on a plate or a small bowl as the base. Then they have loads of hot gravy and cheese curds as toppings.
Things about Fries that You Didn’t know
Yes, there is a national french fries day!
Every July 13th is the National French fries day in the United States. You may notice some vendors are participating in the celebration and allow you to have free fries that day.
Thicker cuts have fewer fats
Next time you wonder about buying shoestring or regular fries, you can return to this trivia. Due to the size, the thicker fries hold fewer fats in them. This is because they have less crispy sides that store more fats. However, since they are mostly starch and carb, they still have equally high calories.
Different potatoes yield different fries
Ever wonder why your attempt at french fries doesn’t come like the one you bought at McDonald’s or Burger King? It’s because they are using different types of potatoes for their fries. Mostly, they choose potatoes with low water content to give more crisps.
There is a fries vending machine
Funnily enough, it didn’t start in Japan. It was in 1982 in Australia that the first vending machine producing hot french fry appeared. They called this machine Mr. French Fry. Now you can find similar machines in the Netherlands and China.
Now, how do you enjoy your fries? Do you like it as a snack or do you prefer it on your plate during dinner? Despite the convoluting history about when and where it originates, French fries have a charm and are a longtime favorite for people of all ages.