Are French Fries Really… French?

We call them French fries but do these delicious, golden strips of awesomeness really come from France? Well, as it turns out, there are various theories on who invented the French fries and even though it’s almost impossible to know their exact origin, it is generally accepted that they were invented by either the French or the Belgians (or both).

Here’s the story.

Potatoes were introduced to Europe in the mid-16th century by the Spanish who brought them all the way from Colombia. But it wasn’t until the early 18th century that potatoes became a potential food source and started expanding into Europe. (the article continues after the ad)

At around the same time, Belgians and French started cutting potatoes in long thin slices and frying them in hot oil. The first Belgians to do so are believed to be the people living in the Meuse Valley between Dinant and Liège. Because it was very common for them to fry fish, when the rivers froze up during the winter and they weren’t able to get any, they would instead fry potatoes. This theory makes sense because during that time, that specific area (as well as much of what is now modern day Belgium) was controlled by the Spanish.

On the other hand, even though potatoes were initially banned in France as they were considered to cause leprosy, once they were accepted, they were being grown on a massive scale. Just like the Belgians, they started frying them and fries became extremely popular in Paris as they were being sold by push-cart vendors on the streets. They were called “frites”.

This all happened around the same time. It’s possible that the French were introduced to fries by the Belgians or the French came up with the idea and spread them to Belgium. Of course, they both may have invented them independently. No one will ever know. Whatever the case though, it is the French that spread the fries to both Britain and America and that’s why they are called “French fries”.

Myth: According to many, French fries are called that way because, during WWI, some French-speaking Belgian soldiers are said to have offered some chips to the American soldiers. The Americans thought that the soldiers were French hence the origin of the name ‘French fries’. This simply cannot be true though as the recipe for “French Fried Potatoes” was already been published in the American cookbook “The Economical Cookery Book for Housewives Cooks and Maids of All Work With Hints to the Mistress and Servant by Eliza Warren” from the 1858 (around 70 years before World War I):

Here’s a link for the book.

If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Potato Chips Were Invented By A Complaining Customer And An Angry Chef

Main Article Photo: Fun and Facts with Kids
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: The History of French FriesHistory of the French FryWhat is the Origin of French Fries?

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