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Americans, I’m sorry to say, are not the masters of the french fry. We may like to believe that we are, with all of our fast food chains, but if there’s one thing I really miss about the Benelux, it’s frites. As this guy attests, before relying this bit of history:

The Dutch, however, cannot take responsibility for inventing the fry. Neither can the French. That honor goes to the Belgians, where fries are cherished even more than they are in Holland. The fry culture in Belgium is similar to that of Holland—fries are everywhere, the thick slabs of potatoes are freshly fried and served in paper cones, and they are offered with a variety of toppings, the most popular being mayonnaise—but the Belgians have also developed a wide variety of specialized fries shops, called, in Belgium “frietkots” or “fritures”. These range from small stands, to sheds, busses and caravans, to shacks or quaint chalets.

It is only in the United States that the nomenclature of fried potatoes insinuates a French connection. In England they are called “chips,” in France “pommes frites” (which means, literally, “fried apples”), and in Belgium and Holland “patat” (not the word for potato, which is “aardappel”). The French fry has little to do with France other than the fact that it’s popularity spread to that country as quickly as it did to others. In fact, the French, like most of Europe, eyed the potato with suspicion until the last century or two.

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