The French gave us a lot of things: hot air balloons, seeing machines, bikinis… But one thing they did NOT give us are French fries.
Despite its name, the origin of French fries trace back to Belgium in the late 1600s. Poor villagers living in Meuse Valley often ate small fried fish they caught in the river. During the winter months, the river would freeze over and fishing was impossible, forcing the villagers to find other sources of food.
The villagers turned to potatoes, slicing and frying it much in the same way they prepared the fish. And just like that, the earliest French fries were born.
In World War I, American soldiers stationed in Belgium were first introduced to French fries, and since 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.
So how do you eat your fries?
French fries are one of the most popular side dishes in the world. We most commonly dip them in ketchup or mayonnaise (or both!), but that’s not the universal preference. In Belgium, people prefer to eat French fries with cooked mussels or with a fried egg on top. The United Kingdom is famous for its “fish and chips.” Canadians have a dish named poutine, consisting of French fries and cheese curds, topped with brown gravy. And we, well… Egyptians put fries in shawarma wraps, so we can’t really say anything!