Friday, July 16, 2010

French Fries - Who Invented These Damn Things?!

With the power to cause rampant obesity in villages, towns and countries both small and large, I got to thinking over a box of Biggie Fries today; who invented these little monsters? I eat my Biggie fries knowing that I'm gonna do Biggie time on the running track later to pay for this moment of weakness, but most people consuming them will eat them and just let it ride - straight to their bellies... Anyway, back to the fries... There are varying accounts of who really invented the french fry, but I bet they had no clue what havoc it would wreak on many a waistline centuries later. Those first credited with cooking and eating fries are.....

the Belgians, who are said to have been seen frying potatoes as early as 1680. They would eat fish and to go along with these meals of fish, they'd fry up some potatoes, cut into small pieces. Hey, sounds like a meal to me! However, I guess that the name "Belgian Fries" was too much of a mouthful for folks at that time. Perhaps it wasn't catchy enough. "French fries" does just roll off your tongue (and they ain't too hard sliding down your esophagus either). However, we have NO problem whatsoever saying Belgian Waffles, eh? I know I sure don't ;)! Anyhow, since French was the main language of Belgians at that time, they somehow got named "pommes frites", or "french fries" as we now know it.

Now, by some accounts "frites" is said to be a word honoring some guy named Fritz. Fritz, a Belgian entrepreneur selling French fries at fairs, was referred to as "le roi des pommes de terre frites". However, according to "The verb "to french", though not attested until after "French fried potatoes" had appeared, can refer to "julienning" of vegetables as is acknowledged by some dictionaries,[11] while others only refer to trimming the meat off the shanks of chops.[12] In the UK, "Frenched" lamb chops (particularly for serving as a "rack of lamb") have the majority of the fat removed together with a small piece of fatty meat from between the ends of the chop bones, leaving mainly only the meat forming the "eye" of the chop attached." Okay. I like the Fritz story much better. Anyhow, there ya go on how they got their name.

The Spanish also claim to be the originators of French Fries since the first European country in which the potato appeared via the New World colonies was the Spanish Netherlands, which became Belgium more than a century later. The Spanish had first seen potatoes in Peru, and thereby, had access to them, although were not as fond of them as they would later become.
The Irish also later embraced the root, but they are mainly known to have eaten them roasted or in stews.

Fries are said to have first appeared in the US during the early 1800's, most notably at a White House dinner during presidency of Thomas Jefferson. They began their rise in popularity then and it hasn't stopped since. Here in the US, there is more than adequate evidence of this, as french fries are found in every restaurant under the sun, and in all cuisines. You can even find french fries on a Chinese food menu. Every man, woman, child and dog knows what a french fry is. We all love french fries, and we're stickin' to 'em! ....while trying to figure out how to not let them stick to us!

Anyhow, I know that it's not the fault of the french fry that so many people are obese. I'm not going to pile all the responsibility of that on the poor little french fry. It's those damn cheeseburgers and the super size soda that do it! lol! Nope. Still not true. What's making us fat is the fact that we want to eat these things unrestrainedly and not within the structure of a balanced diet. I was just on a message board where a 12 year old girl was upset that her Mom doesn't cook and just gives her money for McDonald's and Wendy's rather than turn on the stove, and she's gaining weight because of it. She's being picked on at school and being called fat. THAT's the problem. I'm not going to become preachy here, because that would ruin an otherwise fun post. But you all know the deal..... ;) We all need to get our butts in the kitchen and start cooking again. Fast food should be an occasional treat, not a mainstay of your diet.

Love the fry, but just don't worship it. That means don't eat it all the time, folks! And kudos to whoever first decided to cut potatoes into tiny little strips and throw them into a vat of boiling oil! ;)


VetTech July 17, 2010 at 4:53 PM  

It took me a long time to give myself permission to eat the fries sometimes. What I finally learned was, if what I was really craving was the fries...don't get the hamburger AND fries.

Cruise Addict July 18, 2010 at 12:50 AM  

I say get the hamburger and the fries. If your going to be bad, then do it right. Speaking of which a long time ago before all the trans fat and calorie watchers were around. French fries tasty much better because they used to use beef lard(fat) to fry them in. Talk about a taste explosion, is was wondrous and yes terrible for you.

Now all I eat are carrot sticks and celery ;-)

Camille July 19, 2010 at 2:38 PM  

Haha such a fun post. I never really thought about the origin of french fries. But its really interesting that they started with the Belgians or possibly the Spanish. Thanks for the fun facts. Definitely brought a smile to my face on this Monday.

Unknown July 20, 2010 at 1:37 PM  

'Cheeseburger in Paradise' would be nothing without a well prepared 'Belgin Fry'.

I like the ones you stick in the oven and Bake. I have no idea which is better for you.

Oh, and you gotta' have them with catchup. No Mayo, or Ranch, that would be a sin.


Bry July 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM  

Even when I eat fast food, I never have room for french fries. I honestly don't think they're worth the extra calories, carbs or fat, especially when a burger alone will fill me up.

I really like that you've taken a realistic approach to this, though, in that you don't act as if people should NEVER eat fast food. Sometimes, we'll have a treat, or a cheat, and thats okay because its human. Making it a forbidden item makes it all the more tempting. Having it periodically makes it easier to say no, when you don't want it.

Anonymous,  July 26, 2010 at 11:15 PM  

I've tried making my own "healthier" versions using sweet potatoes, and it's good, but it doesn't beat the real thing. I'm like you- I just hit the machines even harder after I eat some.

Dog Stain Removal July 27, 2010 at 3:12 AM  

Wasn't there a push for Americans to call them freedom fries in the last couple of years?

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