The french fry’s origin is a bit fuzzy, but historians believe that Belgians began frying potatoes as early as the 17th century. It was common for Belgians to eat a small amount of fried fish for their meal, but when the weather turned colder and fish was unavailable, they began to slice potatoes into long strips and fry them up in the same way. So why is it called a “french” fry if Belgium was thought to be the founder?
Originally, France only used potatoes as feed for animals, believing they carried disease. While in prison, a French army medical officer was forced to eat potatoes, and discovered that the stigma surrounding the vegetable was untrue. After he was released, he began advocating the potato at dinners with prominent figures and even began growing his own potato patch. Ultimately, it wasn’t until the famine of 1785 that potatoes became popular in France. Once they did, the French began mass-producing potatoes and learned how to make fries, which they sold as “frites.” The French were the first to introduce the fry to America and Britain, and therefore, Americans dubbed it the “French fry.”
Today, July 13, is National French Fry Day! Go out and celebrate with a supersize order of fries and enjoy these fun facts:
- While the Belgians may or may not have invented the french fry, today, they do consume the most french fries per capita of any country in Europe.
- Steak fries, or chips, actually tend to have lower fat content than normal french fries, due to the lower surface to volume ratio.
- McDonalds is known to fry their fries twice, the combined time taking about 15 to 20 minutes. Once for cooking the insides and once for making them extra crispy on the outside.
- French fry dipping choices vary from country to country: Americans prefer ketchup, the British go for malt vinegar, and in other parts of Europe, mayonnaise is the top pick.
- The slang term for potato, “spud”, comes from the spade-like tool that is used to harvest the potatoes.
- French fries account for more than 1/4 of all potatoes sold in the U.S.
- The average American eats 30 pounds of french fries per year.
And here are some yummy recipes from the fry’s parent vegetable – the potato: