Why Belgian Fries are the BEST?

Everyone calls it french fries, but even the French knew that it didn’t originate from France. Does Belgium really have the best fries? Wanna know the reason why and how the Belgian fries differ from any other fries around the world? Let’s see some of the reasons for their claim, and what was their secret to becoming the best fries in the world.

The History

First thing first… should we call them French fries or Belgian fries?

The truth is, the french fry does not originate in France. The Belgians claim that the fries originated in Belgium. And they have good reasons for claiming so. What we recognize today as french fries are thought to have come from the region of Namur, on the southeast side of Belgium.

It was believed that the birth of the fries comes from the French-speaking region of Namur. Villagers here were fond of eating fried fish caught from the River Meuse. When the river froze in 1680, the fish-deprived villagers had an idea of frying the potatoes instead. So they cut potatoes into the shape of fish, fried them, and used them as a substitute for their favorite dish – fried fish.

The Belgians claim that their fry was incorrectly named by the American soldiers during WW1. It was believed that when the soldiers arrived, they saw and tasted the delicious fries. And since the dominant language of that region is French, they called these tasty fried potatoes “French fries”, and voila! Hence the birth of “french fries”!

The Preparation

How do the Belgian fries differ from the rest? It has something to do with its preparation.

First, choosing the right kind of potatoes and using a special kind of frying oil are key ingredients in making the best fries. Locals say they never use frozen potatoes from the shop, otherwise, it’s not gonna be the same taste. Potatoes should be freshly cut and should be a rectangular shape around 1cm in width. And as for the choice of frying oil, the authentic Belgian fries should always be fried in animal fat. Traditionally, they used a mixture of horse and ox fat for frying their fries. These days, however, most fries vendors use a mix of ox fat and vegetable oil for frying potatoes.

The second secret has something to do with the procedure of frying. Belgians fry the potatoes twice. They fry the potatoes first, then remove them from oil and are left to cool down, and finally, just before serving, they fry them again to make them crispy and golden brown. And voila! The result is golden perfect Belgian fries with a soft and fluffy inside and a crispy exterior. Hmm, yummy!

Belgian Fries
Belgium’s “Les Frites” is really the best fries in the world

The Dip

The third reason why they are different from the other fries has something to do with the dip or sauce. Aside from putting a dash of salt, Belgians put somemayonnaise on top of the fries. Yes, you heard it right. Not ketchup, but mayonnaise. I have tried it and it was a perfect combo!

But no worries if you are not a fan of mayonnaise. There’s a wide variety of dipping sauces to choose from. Here are some of the popular options available on the market.

Here are some of the fries sauces you can choose to suit your taste:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Curry-Mayonnaise
  • Curry-Ketchup
  • Cocktail sauce – mix of ketchup, horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon
  • Andalouse sauce – a mix of peppers, mayonnaise, tomato paste, and pickles
  • Samurai sauce – mayonnaise with Tunisian chili, spices, tomatoes, and bell peppers
  • Pickel sauce – a yellow, vinegar-based sauce with turmeric, mustard, and chunks of crunchy vegetable
  • Sauce Americaine – mayonnaise with tomato, parsley, onions, capers, and celery
  • Brazil sauce – sweet tomato with pineapple and a mix of spices.
  • Fromage – mix of melted cheese and crème fraîche
sauces varieties
There’s a variety of dip sauces to choose from

The fact that Belgians eat more fries than the French, shows that fries is really rooted in the life and history of the Belgians. For me, I have compared the fries here to other countries I have visited, and I can say that the fries here are really special and one of a kind. It is really delicious and satisfying that you don’t need anything else to eat with. The Belgian fries are also a perfect side dish for steaks, mussels, and other deep-fried meat and sausages. It is very common to have fries on the side when ordering a meal at restaurants.

This is also the only country in the world where fries vendors are abundant. You will definitely find one or more fries vendors (Friterie/Frietkot) in almost all of its towns and little villages throughout the country. So wherever you are in Belgium, you will always find your way to taste the Belgian fries.

Most fries vendors serve other deep-fried meat to go along with the fries

NOTE: The Frites vendor or stall – is locally known as FRITERIE in French-speaking neighborhoods and FRIETKOT in Dutch-speaking neighborhoods.

If you are in Brussels and wanted to try some of the famous friteries in town. Here are some names you can look for: Maison Antoine, Frites Flagey, Friterie de la Barrière, Fritland and Friterie Atomium just to name a few – all are near touristic places.

But there is one friterie that stands out – in my own personal opinion of course – and also a favorite for locals – is Chez Clémentine in Place Saint Job. It is a bit far from the tourist areas BUT definitely worth trying.

Famous Friterie near the European Quarter – Place Jourdan
One of my favorite fries vendors in Brussels

Whether you are here for a short stay or longer, make sure to try out and grab some fries on one of the many friteries out there. I’m sure you will definitely agree that Belgian fries are really the best fries in town!

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