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French Fries Aren’t French

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French Fries Aren’t French

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As a Belgian exchange student, I don’t have a lot of things to be proud about regarding my home country. It’s one of the smallest countries in Europe and hardly anyone even knows where it is. Often the only things that foreigners know about Belgium are the peeing fountain man, beer, and waffles, which to be honest, aren’t the worst things to be known for. But there is another thing that I would like to add to that list: French fries.

Now, I understand your immediate reaction, they’re called ‘French’ fries, they must be from France. I’ll be the first to admit, France has some amazing food, but fries aren’t theirs. They’re from their small neighboring country, Belgium.

There are multiple theories about where the name originates from and it is difficult to find out which theory is the correct one. A popular one is that during World War I, Belgians introduced the fries to the British and American army. They took this idea back to their home countries and started calling them French fries because at the time the native language of the Belgian army was French. This theory, however, can’t be correct since a recipe for ‘French fried potatoes’ was discovered in an American cookbook from 1858, many years before the first world war.

Another often heard theory is that they are called French fries because that is the way they are cut. Cooks have different words for different ways of cutting vegetables. There is chiffonade, brunoise, julienne and multiple others. One of those is french, which is similar to julienne, cutting the vegetable in long uniform strips. The only issue with this theory is that no one knows what came first, the French fry or the French cut.

The last theory, which is probably the correct one, (although it is the least entertaining one) is that the French were the people who introduced the fries to other countries. Therefore, they added their name to this delicious snack. Belgium and France border each other so it is possible that the fries spread to France, more specifically Paris, very quickly.

In the past people have argued that the name should be changed to Belgian fries or to just potato fries to keep it simple, but that is not what I’m proposing here. French fries is an alliteration, it has a nice ring to it. I don’t believe we should change it all of a sudden. What I do ask of you, dear reader, is next time you eat some amazingly delicious French fries you think about Belgium for a second. The unbelievably small country that gave you this incredible food.

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French Fries Aren’t French