This election Sunday, it’s out of the question to talk politics. But how many of those running for election will gobble down a quick bag of chips? It’s our dictionary entry of the week
Food for the soul.
The potato, cut into matchsticks and cooked in fat for the purists, oil for those who don’t have fat in the larder, and the oven for those Philistines who buy them frozen. In France, they are served as a side dish. Further North than our “Nord”, in other words Belgium, they are eaten as a main dish. The best way is to get your order at a chip stall, a threatened species although part of local folklore.
Its origin is often the subject of polite polemic between the two countries. The French claim that the French Fry was invented in Paris at the end of the 18th century, the Belge narrate that it first saw the light of day on the banks of the River Meuse, near Namur, when fisherman, tired of contemplating frozen rivers had the bright idea to fry potatoes instead of the fish that had got away (or never caught in this case).
In order to appease all of the antagonists, here is a plausible explanation as told to us by a Belgium culinary historian, a heavyweight in his speciality. At Paris, the ‘roasters’ and the sellers would plunge potatoes into a tub of fat. A German, Frederic Kreiger, on the lookout for new ideas, exported this idea to Belgium in the 19th century, which eventually led to the potato becoming the principle aliment of chip stalls. He is also reputed to have invented the matchstick cut.
For French Fry fans, there is a “Fries Museum”… in Bruges, Belgium of course!
Translated by Loveday Pollard and proofread by SafeTex
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