A dish of French fries
|Alternative name(s)||Chips, hot chips, finger chips, fries, steak fries, wedges, potato wedges, frites|
|Place of origin||Belgium or France|
|Course served||Side dish or snack, rarely as a main dish|
|Serving temperature||Hot, generally salted, often served with ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, barbecue sauce, or other sauce on the side|
|Main ingredient(s)||Potatoes and oil|
French fries (American English), chips, fries, finger chips, or French-fried potatoes are batons of deep-fried potato. In the United States and most of Canada, the term fries refers to any elongated pieces of fried potatoes, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand, long, thinly cut elongated strips of fried potatoes are sometimes called shoestring to distinguish them from the more thickly cut strips called chips.
French fries are served hot, either soft or crispy, and generally eaten as part of lunch or dinner, or on their own as a snack, and they commonly appear on the menus of fast food restaurants. French fries are generally salted and are often served with ketchup; in many countries they are topped instead with other condiments or toppings, including vinegar, mayonnaise, or other local specialties. Fries can also be topped more elaborately, as in the dishes of poutine and chili cheese fries. Sometimes, fries are made with sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, are baked instead of fried, or are cut into unusual shapes.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Culinary origin
- 3 Subsequent history
- 4 By country
- 5 Variants
- 6 Accompaniments
- 7 Health aspects
- 8 Legal issues
- 9 Techniques
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
The expression "French Fried Potatoes" first occurs in print in English in the 1856 work Cookery for Maids of All Work by E Warren:
French Fried Potatoes. – Cut new potatoes in thin slices, put them in boiling fat, and a little salt; fry both sides of a light golden brown colour; drain.
It is unlikely that "French fried" refers to frenching in the sense of julienning, which is not attested until after French fried potatoes. Previously, frenching referred only to trimming meat off the shanks of chops.
It is claimed that fries originated in Belgium, and that the ongoing dispute between the French and Belgians about where they were invented is highly contentious, with both countries claiming ownership. From the Belgian standpoint the popularity of the term "French fries" is explained as a "French gastronomic hegemony" into which the cuisine of Belgium was assimilated because of a lack of understanding coupled with a shared language and geographic proximity between the two countries.
Belgian journalist Jo Gérard claims that a 1781 family manuscript recounts that potatoes were deep-fried prior to 1680 in the Meuse valley, in what was then the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium): "The inhabitants of Namur, Andenne, and Dinant had the custom of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer like those here." Gérard has not produced the manuscript that supports this claim, which, even if true, is unrelated to the later history of the French fry, as the potato did not arrive in the region until around 1735. Also, given 18th century economic conditions: "It is absolutely unthinkable that a peasant could have dedicated large quantities of fat for cooking potatoes. At most they were sautéed in a pan...".
Some people believe that the term "French" was introduced when British and American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I and consequently tasted Belgian fries. They supposedly called them "French", as it was the local language and the official language of the Belgian Army at that time, believing themselves to be in France. At that time, the term "French fries" was growing popular. But in fact the term was already used in America as early as 1899, in an item in Good Housekeeping which specifically references "Kitchen Economy in France": "The perfection of French fries is due chiefly to the fact that plenty of fat is used".
In France and other French-speaking countries, fried potatoes are formally pommes de terre frites, but more commonly pommes frites, patates frites, or simply frites. The word "aiguillettes" or allumettes is used when the French fries are very small and thin.
One enduring origin story holds that French fries were invented by street vendors on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris in 1789, just before the outbreak of the French revolution. However, a reference exists in France from 1775 to "a few pieces of fried potato" and to "fried potatoes".
Eating potatoes was promoted in France by Parmentier, but he did not mention fried potatoes in particular. Many Americans attribute the dish to France and offer as evidence a notation by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. "Pommes de terre frites à cru, en petites tranches" ("Potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small slices") in a manuscript in Thomas Jefferson's hand (circa 1801–1809) and the recipe almost certainly comes from his French chef, Honoré Julien. In addition, from 1813 on, recipes for what can be described as French fries occur in popular American cookbooks. By the late 1850s, one of these uses the term French fried potatoes.
Frites are the main ingredient in the Canadian dish of Québécois descent known in both Canadian English and French as poutine, consisting of fried potatoes covered with cheese curds and gravy, a dish with a growing number of variations.
In Denmark, Sweden and Norway they are called Pommes Frites (potatoes, fried). They are the most common form of potatoes when served together with breaded plaice (or certain other low fat fishes). When served with fish, represents remoulade and a good lemon slice the typical Danish version of fish and chips. Remoulade is a yellowish often fat sauce which mostly is based on mayonnaise and pickles usually made of minced cauliflower and cabbage.
Pommes Frites are also served in entire Scandinavia as a stand-alone dish (then together with ketchup, remoulade or hamburger dressing). Fried sausage (same kind as for Hot Dogs), hamburgers or schnitzels may be the meat portion of a dish which includes french fries. Some actual restaurants (as contrast to "fast-food") can serve french fries. Then usually to an entrecote or other beef together with bearnaise. Better restaurants tend to avoid serving french fries, with the possible exception of fish'n chips.
In Spain, fried potatoes are called patatas fritas or papas fritas. Another common form, in which the potatoes are cut into irregular shapes and seasoned with a spicy tomato sauce, is called patatas bravas.
Some[who?] speculate that the dish may have been invented in Spain, the first European country in which the potato appeared via the New World colonies, and assume the first appearance to have been as an accompaniment to fish dishes in Galicia, from which it spread to the rest of the country and further to the Spanish Netherlands, which became Belgium more than a century later.
Professor Paul Ilegems, curator of the Frietmuseum in Bruges, Belgium, believes that Saint Teresa of Ávila fried the first French fries, referring also to the tradition of frying in Mediterranean cuisine.
The J. R. Simplot Company is credited with successfully commercializing French fries in frozen form during the 1940s. Subsequently, in 1967, Ray Kroc of McDonald's contracted the Simplot company to supply them with frozen fries, replacing fresh-cut potatoes.
In 2004, 29% of the United States' potato crop were used to make frozen fries – 90% consumed by the food services sector and 10% by retail. It is estimated that 80% of households in the UK buy frozen fries each year.
Belgium and the Netherlands
Fries are very popular in Belgium, where they are known as frieten (in Dutch) or frites (in French), and the Netherlands, where they are known as patat in the north and, in the south, friet. In Belgium, fries are sold in shops called friteries (French), frietkot/frituur (Dutch), or Fritüre/Frittüre (German). They are served with a large variety of Belgian sauces and eaten either on their own or with other snacks such as fricandelle or burgers. Traditionally, fries are served in a cornet de frites (French), frietzak/fritzak (Dutch), or Frittentüte (German), a white cardboard cone, then wrapped in paper, with a spoonful of sauce (mayonnaise and many others) on top. They may also be served with other traditional fast-food items, such as frikandel/fricadelle, fishsticks gehaktbal/boulet (meatballs) or kroket/croquette. In the Netherlands, fries are sold at snack bars, often served with sauce Fritessaus or curry ketchup..
Friteries and other fast-food establishments tend to offer a number of different sauces for the fries and meats. In addition to ketchup and mayonnaise, popular options include: aioli, sauce andalouse, sauce Americaine, Bicky Dressing (Gele Bicky-sauce), curry mayonnaise, mammoet-sauce, peanut sauce, samurai-sauce, sauce "Pickles", pepper-sauce, tartar sauce, zigeuner sauce, and À la zingara. These sauces are generally also available in supermarkets. In addition to this, hot sauces are sometimes offered by friteries, including hollandaise sauce, sauce provençale, Béarnaise sauce, or a splash carbonade flamande stew from a constantly simmering pot, in the spirit of British chips and gravy.
In France, the thick-cut fries are called Pommes Pont-Neuf or simply pommes frites, about 10 mm; thinner variants are pommes allumettes (matchstick potatoes), ±7 mm, and pommes paille (potato straws), 3–4 mm (roughly 0.4, 0.3 and 0.15 inch respectively). The two-bath technique is standard (Bocuse). Pommes gaufrettes are waffle fries.
Germany, Austria, Switzerland
French fries migrated to the German-speaking countries during the 19th century. In Germany, where they are usually known by the French words pommes frites, or (derived from the French words, but pronounced as German words) only Pommes or Fritten, they are often served with mayonnaise, and are a popular walking snack offered by Schnellimbiss ("quick bite") kiosks. Since the advent of Currywurst in the 1950s, a paper tray of sausage (bratwurst or bockwurst) anointed with curry ketchup and laced with additional curry powder, and a side of french fries, has become an immensely popular fast-food meal.
The usual deep-fried potatoes in the United Kingdom are called "chips", and are between 10 and 15 mm (0.4 to 0.6 inches) wide. They are occasionally made from unpeeled potatoes. Chips are often less crisp than the continental European French fry, owing to their relatively high water content. British chips are not potato chips, which are called "crisps" in Britain.
Like other deep-fried potatoes, they are cooked twice, once at a relatively low temperature (blanching) to cook the potato, and then at a higher temperature to crisp the surface, making them crunchy on the outside and fluffier on the inside.
The first chips fried in the UK were sold by a Mrs 'Granny' Duce, in one of the West Riding towns beginning in 1854. A blue plaque in Oldham marks the origin of the fish and chip shop and fast food industries in Britain. In Scotland, chips were first sold in Dundee, "...in the 1870s, that glory of British gastronomy – the chip – was first sold by Belgian immigrant Edward De Gernier in the city's Greenmarket".
Although French fries were already a popular dish in most British commonwealth countries, the thin style of French fries has been popularized worldwide in part by the large American fast-food chains, such as McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's.
Pre-made French fries have been available for home cooking since the 1960s, usually having been pre-fried (or sometimes baked), frozen and placed in a sealed plastic bag.
Some later varieties of French fries are battered and breaded, and many fast-food chains in the U.S. dust the potatoes with kashi, dextrin, and other flavor coatings for crispier fries with particular tastes. Results with batterings and breadings, followed by microwaving, have not achieved widespread critical acceptance. Oven frying delivers a dish different from deep-fried potatoes.
There are several variants of French fries. They include:
- Animal fries – fries covered with cheese, grilled onions, and spread
- Carne asada fries – fries covered with carne asada, guacamole, sour cream and cheese
- Cheese fries – Fries covered with cheese
- Chili fries – Fries covered with chili
- Crinkle-cut fries – also known as "wavy fries, they're cut in a corrugated fashion
- Curly fries – characterized by their spring-like shape, cut from whole potatoes using a specialized spiral slicer.
- Curry Chips - fries covered in curry sauce, a popular item served by chip shops in Ireland
- Home fries – Fries cut into rough cubes instead of sticks
- Oven fries – fries that are cooked in the oven as a final step in the preparation (having been coated with oil during preparation at the factory), often sold frozen
- Potato wedges – Thick-cut fries with the skin
- Poutine – A dish consisting of fries topped with cheese curds and light brown gravy and principally associated with the Canadian province of Québec
- Seasoned fries – coated with spices, or other ingredients, which include garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, and salt
- Shoestring fries – Fries cut "as thin as a shoestring"
- Steak fries – Thick-cut fries without the skin
- Sweet potato fries – Fries made with sweet potatoes instead of traditional white potatoes
- Triple Cooked Chips
- Tornado fries
- Waffle fries – obtained by quarter-turning the potato before each next slide over a grater and deep-frying just once
Wavy French fries sold in a Canadian supermarket
Fries tend to be served with a variety of accompaniments, such as salt and vinegar (malt, balsamic or white), pepper, grated cheese, melted cheese, mushy peas, heated curry sauce, curry ketchup (mildly spiced mix of the former), hot sauce, relish, mustard, mayonnaise, bearnaise sauce, tartar sauce, chili, tzatziki, feta cheese, garlic sauce, fry sauce, butter, sour cream, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, gravy, honey, aioli, brown sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, piccalilli, pickled cucumber, pickled gherkins, pickled onions or pickled eggs.
French fries contain primarily carbohydrates from the potato (mostly in the form of starch) and fat absorbed during the deep-frying process. For example: a large serving of French fries at McDonald's in the United States is (154 grams); nearly all of the 500 calories per serving derive from the 63 g of carbohydrates and the 25 g of fat; a serving also contains 6 g of protein, plus 350 mg of sodium.
Frying French fries in beef tallow, lard, or other animal fats adds saturated fat to the diet. Replacing animal fats with tropical vegetable oils, such as palm oil, simply substitutes one saturated fat for another. Replacing animal fats with partially hydrogenated oil reduces cholesterol but adds trans fat, which has been shown to both raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Canola/Rapeseed oil, or sunflower-seed oil are also used, as are mixes of vegetable oils, but beef tallow is generally more popular, especially amongst fast-food outlets that use communal oil baths. Accordingly, many restaurants now advertise their use of unsaturated oils; for example, both Five Guys and Chick-fil-A advertise that their fries are prepared with peanut oil.
French fries contain some of the highest levels of acrylamides of any foodstuff, and concerns have been raised about the impact of acrylamides on human health. According to the American Cancer Society it is not clear, as of 2013[update], whether acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of getting cancer.
In June 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture, with the advisement of a federal district judge from Beaumont, Texas, classified batter-coated French fries as a vegetable under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. This was primarily for trade reasons. French fries do not meet the standard to be listed as a processed food. This classification, referred to as the "French fry rule", was upheld in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit case Fleming Companies, Inc. v. USDA.
In the United States in 2002, the McDonald's Corporation agreed to donate to Hindu and other groups to settle lawsuits filed against the chain for mislabeling French fries and hash browns as vegetarian, because their French fries and hash browns were found to contain beef extract added during production.
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