Tour France: The Controversies of the “French Fry”

Ever wondered where french fries really come from? As Andrew Petcher discovered, most of Europe is still bickering over the same thing! Celebrated world traveler Andrew Petcher shared his discovery about the “Disputed Origins of Frites” while on the way back from a trip to France.

We couldn’t resist sharing his story with you. Here are some snippets from his blog post (and some photos of our previous trips.) For the full story, you can visit his blog “Have Bag, Will Travel.”

“There was a mid afternoon channel crossing ahead so we checked out early and made our way along the coast with the intention of stopping somewhere along the way for a last lunch in France before returning to England. The chosen route took us past Boulogne, Wissant, Wimereux and Ambleteuse, all places that we had already visited and we had a mind to stop in Audreselles which we liked the look of but was busy to busting on the day that we had arrived so we had had to drive straight through.

Lunch is one of the best parts of a trip to France. Choosing your restaurant is the toughest decision of the day!

Lunch is one of the best parts of a trip to France. Choosing your restaurant is the toughest decision of the day!

We came across a friterie which the consensus declared to be acceptable and I had to agree that this seemed a very good way to spend our last hour or so in northern France.

Friteries are a feature of this part of France and are a simple place to buy French fries accompanied by a selection of sauces and accompaniments. The thin strips of potato are fried twice, first to drive out the moisture and second to achieve the golden crispness of the French Fry and the friterie we chose was full to overflowing with customers lining up for their favourite combination.

Frites become part of the sandwich (if the sandwich is even necessary) to add that special crunch. Delicieux!

Frites become part of the sandwich (if the sandwich is even necessary) to add that special crunch. Delicieux!

I was interested to discover that there is controversy about the humble French fry, frite or chip and there are conflicting claims to how it came to enter the culinary traditions of so many countries. It is served everywhere in northern France but it is the Belgians who claim that they invented it and there is a rather unlikely tale attached to the claim. The story goes that the local people rather liked eating small deep fried fishes but when the rivers were frozen and fishing became hazardous they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer instead. I can’t believe that this was going to fool anyone but then again take a look in a supermarket freezer section today and potatoes are cut into all sorts of different shapes to amuse the kids.

Andrew and his group were around the border between Northern France, Belgium, and England.

Andrew and his group were around the border between Northern France, Belgium, and England.

Belgium however still stubbornly hangs on to its claim and dismisses the claim of the French themselves by arguing that the description ‘French Fries’ originated due to a linguistic misunderstanding, because in old English ‘to French’ meant ‘cut into sticks’ and because US soldiers in the Second-World-War called them French Fries on account of the fact that the official language of Belgium at the time was French. While researching this I half expected to find a German claim with the fried potato strips no doubt invented by someone called Fritz!

Of course we don’t care what the Belgians, the French or the Spanish think because we are convinced that they are an English invention and that we make a better job of cooking them anyway.Traditionally, chips in the United Kingdom are cut much thicker and since the surface-to-volume ratio is lower, they have a lower fat content. According to legend, the first chips fried in the UK were on the site of Oldham’s Tommyfield Market in 1860.

A little fork and some mayo is how many Europeans prefer their fries. Ever tried it?

A little fork and some mayo is how many Europeans prefer their fries. Ever tried it?

Anyway, we didn’t concern ourselves with the history of the frite today and we each ordered a medium portion served on a French stick – a sort of continental chip butty – and as we cleared the table and left we declared the simple meal a resounding success.”

Eager to try the disputed Frites of Europe? Try them on one of Bliss Travelstrips to France! We also arrange side trips to Belgium–taste both countries’ takes on the famous dish and decide which you prefer! 

You can add a custom trip to Brussels at the beginning or end of any of our trips to France. Celebrate the holidays in Paris! Come to Bordeaux and Barcelona in April! Perhaps Paris and Provence in May are more your style? Check out this clip of one of our recent trips to see what Bliss is really about–

We hope to see you on a trip with us soon!

A bientot–

Bliss Travels

Advertisements
This entry was posted in travel.

5 comments on “Tour France: The Controversies of the “French Fry”

  1. Miia says:

    I am happy to read that you too have realized how difficult it is to make The Right Choice about which restaurant to go to! It is a BIG responsibility 😉 Eating badly puts a Frenchman/woman in such a bad mood… 🙂

  2. My pleasure. Thank you for your comments 🙂

  3. Tom says:

    We couldn’t resist sharing his story with you. Here area unit some snippets from his journal post (and some photos of our previous journeys.) For the total story, you’ll be able to visit his journal “Have Bag, can Travel.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s