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ARE FRENCH FRIES FRENCH?

Fries are loved by everyone. Whether they are curly, crinkle, shoestring, wedge or waffle. There are two things in this world that are bound to taste good. Anything that’s fried and anything that has potatoes. So how can one go wrong with both of them combined? I mean a potato that is fried is the very definition of bliss! Rumour has it that frying fries in tallow (beef fat) gives it a better taste and are crispier. But hey! Don’t take my word for it! Try it out and let me know in comments instead!

But where does the French fry belong to? Naturally, as the name suggests, the common answer would be France. Or without thinking much, one would say American. But what’s in its name? Down in Britain they go by ‘chips’… Language is a bewildering ruse isn’t it? One man’s coriander is another man’s cilantro. For the French, it’s a courgette whereas for Italians its zucchini. The same is for Arugula and Rocket, Eggplant and Aubergine and the list goes on…

Potatoes got to Belgium before France, but there is early evidence of fries in the French culture. The tie breaker here was the long, slim stick shape. In 1903, Escoffier gave out a recipe for fried potatoes specifying the shape ‘stick’. But more than a century earlier, Belgium has roots to the stick shape. In the late 1600’s, people living in Southern Belgium, near the river Meuse regularly caught fish and fried it. In the cold months, the river froze and they couldn’t fish so they cut potatoes in the shape of small fish and started to fry that.

It’s also said that Belgium introduced the “Double fried potatoes” and that’s what made them special. Belgian fries are fried twice resulting them to be soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. The first frying is done to heat up the water in the potatoes and the second frying is done to get the perfect amber coloured crisp fries. In Belgium, they also have a stern belief about which potato to use for the best French fry. Belgians loves fries. There are frites carts everywhere in Belgium. In fact, one of the most popular dishes in Belgium is fries and mussels!

Oh! And also, Belgium fries are accompanied with mayonnaise. Now that’s strange for people eating it with ketchup. Do you know what else is weird? Curry sauce, mustard, garlic, chilli and tartar with French fries!! In fact, in England mulled vinegar is consumed with fries.

Now anything is possible in the culinary world. Canada has poutine, fries with brown gravy and cheese curds, which to be honest sounds tempting, at least to me! You tell me? Which accompaniment is your favourite and whether you think fries are French or Belgian!

Twisha Mohin

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1 COMMENT

  • Sangita

    Interesting read. When you munch these at MCD you hardly give a thought

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