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zondag 3 november 2013

Fries (Frietjes)


Ok, I know, it’s about food... again… But while I’m working on a few bigger articles I’ll tell you about some of the specialties from Belgium. And next to chocolate, fries are as Belgian as it can be!

History on fries begins somewhere in the 1680’s with the people from the area of Namen, Andenne and Dinant (Cities in the French speaking part of Belgium). When it was too stormy or too cold to fish, they cut potatoes in the shapes of little fish and fried those in oil.
Unfortunately, when you look in history you’ll find that potatoes are introduced in those areas around 1735. So, as nice that story is, it’s not possible. Fries where generally known in the 1900’s here in Belgium, but the real story on fries is sadly lost in history.

Maybe you noticed, but I’m talking about “Fries”, and not “French fries” like our American friends do. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there are different kinds of fries. You have the French fries, Belgian fries, English chips and straw fries. It may sound confusing, but let me explain.

French fries are known as “allumettes”, meaning “matches”. They are fried in one time.

Belgian fries are prepared in two steps, the first time in oil of + 160°C, the pre-fried fries are left to rest for half an hour, then again fried in oil of 180°C. They got to have a gold-brown color to be perfect. The thickness of Belgian fries is between 6 to 13 mm. Thicker than the French fries.

Chips are a lot thicker than the Belgian fries, and often backed in a pan instead of frying them in oil. The temperatures are a lot lower, so they’re more soggy.

Straw fries are very thin (1,5mm), fried in one time. You can’t find a place to eat this in Bruges…

But why do Americans keep saying “French fries” to the Belgian fries? Well, in the First World War, US-troops were fighting here in Europe. Most fighting was done around the French-Belgian border. At that moment the soldiers didn’t knew exactly if they were in Belgium or France. The troops got food from the local population who spoke French. They got fries…Nowadays many people know we have a Dutch speaking and French speaking part in Belgium. Back in those days they didn’t. So, while they heard the French language and getting fries, they thought they were in France. And that’s where the name “French fries” comes from.
Dudes, if you’re at a McDonalds, those are French fries. For the rest, just call them fries.

If you want to eat fries, you can find many shops where you can eat them. Mind, most restaurants and tea-rooms close at 10pm! But if you’re into a late snack, the two green shacks in front of the Belfry are open until 3 or 4 am! Those shacks are standing there since 1897.
Every so many years you can bid on one (or both) of those shacks to start making and selling your own fries. Bidding begins at 50.000 Euro… It’s big business there.
But, they do have good fries. If you want to know my personal favorite of the two… you’ll have to do the tour with me then!
 

There is a fries-museum in Bruges. You can find it in the Vlamingstraat 33, not far from the market square. It’s open every day from 10am until 5pm. A visit takes about 45 minutes and costs 6 Euro for an adult, 4 Euro for children from 6-11 years old and groups (+15 persons), students and 65+ pay 5 Euro.

One more thing: if you want to go Belgian style, ask for mayonnaise (not ketchup) with the fries. You can have an extra snack with it. A “frikandel” is typical for Belgians. A real classic!