Are they French Fries or are they Belgian Fries? Well, does it really matter? I guess if you take pride in your fries it does but I don’t think either country gets any royalty for that.
The name supposedly comes from the World War 1 era when the American Dough Boys went to Europe and ordered these odd things called “French Fries”, but the Americans were actually in Belgium at the time. They were stationed with Belgian troops but the soldiers spoke French so naturally, the Americans assumed they were French.
French Fries had been around for a long time before that. In fact, there is reference to them being served in 1680 in Belgium. They apparently did not come to France until 1789, over a hundred years later. Thomas Jefferson had them served at the White house in 1802 and they were mentioned in a cookbook called “Cookery for Maids of All Works” by E. Warren in 1856.
Since then, we have come a long way with versions of the cut potato that is generally deep fried in oil, although they can be baked in an oven as well. They are called Chips in England and Finger Chips in India.
There are crinkle cut fries though I am not sure why this is important, I suppose they are a bit stronger and maybe hold sauces better.
And lanky smooth cut fries, like those served at McDonalds. In fact, McDonald’s seems to have cornered a market with their fries, generally preferred over the fries of other fast food restaurants.
We have put cheese on them, added chili to them…
… and even made them out of sweet potatoes so that we feel like we are eating healthier.
There are all sorts of sauces we dip our fries into but few seem to out perform ketchup. It is widely accepted that Thomas Jefferson introduced them to the American diet, though it was quite different back then than it is now. Ironically today, what could be more American than the French Fry?
How to celebrate – Go find some french fries and eat them all yourself, no sharing! Find other veggies you can cut up like fries and invent your own version of the “American” fry. Make your own comparison of the french fries available at different fast food venues.