Belgian Fries or French Fries ?

Despite some other legends, the Belgians like to remind strangers that French fries are not French but Belgian as they come from Belgium, during the 18th century.

For some people, the popularity of the term French fries is explained as a consequence of an international French gastronomic hegemony, into which the Belgian cuisine, due to a lack of understanding, was assimilated.

Other people say that the adjective French was introduced during World War I, when the American and British soldiers arrived in Belgium and had the opportunity to taste Belgian fries. They supposedly called them French, as it was the local language and the official language of the Belgian Army at that time, believing themselves to be in France. And this is how the term French fries became popular. However, in the south of Netherlands, bordering Belgium, they were, and still are, called Vlaamse frieten (Flemish fries), which attests its country's origin.

Frites or frieten became the national snack and a substantial part of several national dishes in Belgium, such as Moules-frites or Steak-frites. Belgian fries are cooked twice, generally salted and are often served with mayonnaise or ketchup or many other sauces.

You can find in every little town of Belgium a small shops called friteries (in French), frietkot (in Dutch) or Fritüre (in German) where Belgian fries are sold. They are served with a large varierty of Belgian sauces and eaten either on their own or with other snacks such as fricadelle, boulet/gehaktbal (meatballs), croquette/kroket or burgers. Belgian fries are mostly served in a cornet de frites, frietzak or Frittentüte, a white cardboard cone, then wrapped in paper, with a spoonful of sauce on top.

How to make Belgian fries ?

It looks easy but not all fries can pretend to be Belgian fries.

How to make Belgian fries ?

You will need :

  • Charlotte or Bintjes potatoes*
  • Oil
  • Mayonnaise (optional)
  • Salt (optional)

 * You can also use other potatoes such as Yucon Gold or Russett potatoes 

  1. Start by washing and peeling the potatoes.
  2. Cut the potatoes into fries from about a 1cm square (or a little less) and wash them in cold water. Dry them with kitchen paper or a towel until they are completely dry.
  3. Fry a first time the fries at a temperature of 160°C (320°F) for about 6-8 minutes, depending how thick they are. Do not overload the deep fryer otherwise your fries will stick together and won't be very tasty.
  4. Take the fries out of the deep fryer and lay them into a bowl covered with kitchen paper to absorb the excess of oil. Wait for about 10 minutes.
  5. Fry them a second time for about 2 to 4 minutes at a temperature of 190°C (375°F) until they are crispy and golden brown. Lay them into the bowl with a new piece of kitchen paper again to absorb the excess oil.
  6. Salt if you like and serve the fries with mayonnaise (or ketchup).