French fries or simply fries or chips are generally thin sticks of potato that have been deep-fried.
Common lore claims that the original fry was born in Namur in francophone Belgium, where the locals were particularly fond of fried fish. When the River Meuse froze over one cold winter in 1680, people ostensibly fried potatoes instead of the small fish they were accustomed to, and the fry was born.
However, there are a set of historians who claim that French fries are indeed French. First sold by street vendors on Paris’s Pont Neuf in the 1780s, the thin potato fritters were one of the most sold items before the outbreak of French revolution.
American soldiers stationed in Belgium were first introduced to French fries during World War I. As the official language of the Belgian army was French, soldiers nicknamed the delicious fried potatoes “French fries.” The name stuck, and decades later we’re still giving credit to the wrong country.
French fries are one of the most popular side dishes in the world.
Perhaps it is the flavor of the fat, or the salt—or both—that leads us to purchase the potatoes often.
In Belgium, people prefer to eat French fries with cooked mussels or with a fried egg on top.
Fish and chips is one of the most popular meals in Great Britain.
In the Middle East, fries are wrapped in pita bread with chicken, and in France they are served with grilled steak.
Canadians serve up poutine, a dish consisting of french fries and cheese curds, topped with brown gravy!
A medium-size potato packs a mere 150 calories or so, is fat-free, and is a great source of complex carbohydrates, a major source of the body’s energy. An equivalent serving of fries contains over 500 calories, over 30 percent of which come from fat, and over a dozen additives carefully calibrated to make ries taste yummy.
The average American eats 13 kilograms (29 pounds) of French fries a year—that is, about 77 large-size servings of McDonald’s fries—and polls show that the French fry is the favorite vegetable of toddlers.
Burger King’s French fries (and probably McDonald’s too) are sprayed with a sugar solution just before being packaged and shipped to the various franchise locations. This produces the golden color through caramelization of the sugar when it is fried.
Thomas Jefferson had “potatoes served in the French manner” at a White House dinner in 1802.
The expression “french fried potatoes” first occurred in print in English in the 1856 work Cookery for Maids of All Work by E. Warren.
In France and other French-speaking countries, fried potatoes are formally pommes de terre frites, but more commonly pommes frites, patates frites, or simply frites.
The town of Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, headquarters of McCain Foods, calls itself “the French fry capital of the world” and also hosts a museum about potatoes called “Potato World”. It is also one of the world’s largest manufacturers of frozen french fries and other potato specialties.
French fries do not require eating utensils in informal situations, which makes them easy to eat and to carry away from the point of purchase.