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.