Did you have a large portion of Belgian fries last Saturday? Golden brown and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. No too thick, but beware, not too thin either. Served with a glorious dollop of egg shell coloured Mayonnaise. Yes, egg shell coloured, because the white one I’m getting with my fries here in Sweden, most of the time tastes shit. No? Well, then you better should now, because 1 August was the National Day of Belgian fries, which are also considered a world UNESCO heritage.
Ok, but let’s take a look closer at the world’s most famous potato, the fried potato. There’s many stories behind its origin. Some say they’re French, hence the name ‘French fries’, some claim they’re Belgian. Judging from the amount of Frietkots around the country, which amount to some 5000, one may assume that they indeed are of Belgian origin. There’s some explanations to why people thought or think that fries were French, one of them being that back in the days to cut something in thin strips was called to cut something the ‘French way’. Another reason is that back in times, American soldiers who got back from Belgium referred to the fried potatoes they’ve eaten as ‘French’, simply because that’s the language that’s being spoken in parts of Belgium.
I guess we must make our own judgement and just keep on eating this great invention of a snack, main course or dessert. In my opinion fries are all of the three, enjoyed best at any time of the day.
1. Fries & Mayonnaise
I’ve had several debates with people about fries. Some really don’t like the Belgian way of making them, because they say they’re too thick and too ‘meaty’. They prefer theirs a bit thinner and also a bit less fried, so they don’t get that crunchy.
The traditional Belgian fries are fried twice and most commonly in duck fat. You get them either with Mayonnaise or you chose one of the special sauces that are being sold at the fries places around Belgium, which can be Samurai, Andalouse and other varieties with spices, chili and different tastes.
In the beginning, when I just had moved to Belgium, people told me that not only the fries there are great, but that it’s also the Mayonnaise, which tastes extraordinary. I agree. I realised this though once moving out of the country and being served a much lighter Mayonnaise that didn’t taste like much.
2. Where to get the best ones?
My favourite spots in Brussels, are definitely Maison Antoine, Frit Flagey and Bintje. The latter one carries the name of a 1905 invented kind of Belgian potato that’s perfect of making the frites. At the restaurant they’re a bite thinner and fried with some skin on, hence a bit more rustic than at the other two places.
I love them all and no matter the time of the day, I won’t say no, to a nice portion of fries, golden brown and crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. No too thick, but beware, not too thin either. Served with a glorious dollop of egg shell coloured Mayonnaise.