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French fries (North American English, sometimes capitalized), fries, or french-fried potatoes are thin strips of deep-fried potato. North Americans often refer to any elongated pieces of fried potatoes as fries, while in other parts of the world, long slices of potatoes are sometimes called fries to contrast them with the thickly cut strips, which are often referred to as chips. French fries are known as frites or pommes frites in many parts of Europe, and have names that mean "french potatoes" in others (Icelandic Franskar kartöflur, Finnish Ranskalaiset perunat).


Oven baked fries
The phrase means potatoes fried in the French sense of the verb "to cook", which can mean either sautéing or deep-grease frying. While its French origin, frire, unambiguously means deep-frying, frites being its past participle used with a plural (not singular, but plural) feminine substantive, as in pommes de terre frites ("deep-fried potatoes").

Thomas Jefferson at a White House dinner in 1802 served "potatoes served in the French manner".

In the early 20th century, the term "French fried" was being used for foods such as onion rings or chicken, apart from potatoes.

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, while others only refer to trimming the meat off the shank of chops. 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.

Culinary origin


Belgian historian Jo Gerard recounts that potatoes were fried in 1680 in the Spanish Netherlands, in the area of "the Meusemarker valley between Dinantmarker and Liègemarker, Belgium. The poor inhabitants of this region allegedly had the custom of accompanying their meals with small fried fish, but when the river was frozen and they were unable to fish, they cut potatoes lengthwise and fried them in oil to accompany their meals."

A Belgian legend claims that the term "French" was introduced when British or American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I, and consequently tasted Belgian fries. They supposedly called them "French", as it was the official language of the Belgian Army at that time.

Whether or not Belgians invented them, "Frieten" became the national snack and a substantial part of several national dishes.


In France, fried potatoes are called "pommes de terres frites" , "pommes frites" or more simply (and commonly) "frites".

Recipes for fried potatoes in French cookbooks date to Menon's Les soupers de la cour (1755). Eating potatoes was promoted in France by Parmentier, but he did not mention fried potatoes in particular.

Many Americans attribute the dish to Francemarker 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 cuttings") 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 mentions the term "French fried potatoes".


Some claim that the dish was invented in Spainmarker, the first European country in which the potato appeared via the New World colonies, and assumes the first appearance to have been as an accompaniment to fish dishes in Galiciamarker, 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 Friet-museum in Antwerpmarker, Belgiummarker, believes that Saint Teresa of Ávila fried the first chips, referring also to the tradition of frying in Mediterranean cuisine.
 (Feb 25 2007 found archived as "Nieuw boek van frietprofessor Paul Ilegems over frietkotcultuur" 20051213.3133206672696574)

Spreading popularity

United Kingdom

The first chip fried in Britainmarker was apparently on the site of Oldhammarker's Tommyfield Market in 1860. In Scotlandmarker, chips were first sold in Dundeemarker, " the 1870s, that glory of British gastronomy – the chip – was first sold by Belgian immigrant Edward De Gernier in the city’s Greenmarket."

United States influence

French fry production at a restaurant with thermostatic temperature control.
Although the thicker cut British style of fried potato (known as chips) was already a popular dish in most Commonwealth countries, the thin style of french fries has been popularized worldwide in part by U.S.marker-based fast food chains.

In the 2000s

Pre-made french fries have been available for home cooking since the 1970s, usually having been pre-fried (or sometimes baked), frozen and placed in a sealed plastic bag.

Later varieties of french fries include those which have been battered and breaded, and many U.S. fast food and casual-food chains have turned to dusting with kashi, dextrin, and flavors coating 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 the traditionally fried item.


There are variants such as "thick-cut fries", "steak fries", "shoestring fries", "jojo fries", "crinkle fries", and "curly fries". They can also be coated with breading and spices, which include garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika, and salt to create "seasoned fries", or cut thickly with the skin left on to create potato wedges, or without the skin to create "steak fries", essentially the American equivalent of the British "chip". Sometimes, french fries are cooked in the oven as a final step in the preparation (having been coated with oil during preparation at the factory): these are often sold frozen and are called "oven fries" or "oven chips". Some restaurants in the southern and northeastern United States, particularly New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Louisiana offer french fries made from sweet potatoes instead of traditional potatoes.

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 pailles" (potato straws), 3-4 mm (roughly ⅜, ¼ and ⅛ inch respectively). The two-bath technique is standard (Bocuse). "Pommes gaufrettes" or "waffle fries" are not typical french fried potatoes, but actually crisps obtained by quarter turning the potato before each next slide over a grater and deep-frying just once.

Jean Ceustermans, a Belgian chef patented "steppegras" ("prairie grass"), his variety of extremely thin-cut French fried potatoes developed in 1968 while working in Germanymarker. The name refers to a dish including its particular sauce, and to his restaurant.

In Australia, the United Kingdom, and Irelandmarker, the term "French fries" was made popular by American fast food franchises setting up restaurants and serving narrow-cut (shoestring) fries. Traditional "chips" in the United Kingdommarker and Irelandmarker are usually cut much thicker, typically between ⅜ and ½ inches (9.5-13 mm) square in cross-section and cooked twice, making them less crunchy on the outside and fluffier on the inside. Since the surface-to-volume ratio is lower, they have a lower fat content. Chips are part of the popular take-away dish fish and chips. In Australia, the UK, Ireland, and New Zealandmarker, few towns are without a chip shop (colloquial, a chippie/chippy/chipper).

In an interview, Burger King president Donald Smith said that his chain's fries are sprayed with a sugar solution shortly before being packaged and shipped to individual outlets. The sugar caramelize in the cooking fat, producing the golden color customers expect. Without it, the fries would be nearly the same color outside as inside: pasty yellow. Smith believes that McDonald's also sugar-coats its fries. McDonalds was assumed to fry their fries for a total time of about 15 to 20 minutes, and with fries fried at least twice. The fries appear to contain beef tallow, or shortening.

Curly fries (unseasoned)

Curly fries

Curly fries are a kind of french fry characterized by their unique spring-like shape. They are generally made from whole potatoes that are cut using a specialised spiral slicer. They are also typically characterized by the presence of additional seasonings (which give the fries a more orange appearance when compared to the more yellow appearance of standard fries), although this is not always the case.

Sometimes they are packaged for preparation at home, often in frozen packs. In the US they can also be found at a number of restaurants and fast food outlets like Arby's, where they are most often served with cups of dipping cheese; although other condiments, such as ketchup, fry sauce, or sweet chili sauce and sour cream, may be served with curly fries.


French fries are almost always salted just after cooking. They are then served with a variety of condiments, notably ketchup, curry, curry ketchup (mildly hot mix of the former), hot or chili sauce, mustard, mayonnaise, bearnaise sauce, tartar sauce, tzatziki, feta cheese, garlic sauce, fry sauce, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, gravy, aioli, brown sauce, vinegar (especially malt vinegar), lemon, piccalilli, pickled cucumber, gherkins, very small pickled onions, or honey.

Besides being a popular snack in themselves, french fried potatoes as a side dish to specific food or an integral part of a named dish often typify a country:

  • In Algeriamarker, grilled Merguez: Frites-merguez.
  • In Australia and New Zealandmarker, chips are accompanied by either tomato sauce (ketchup), BBQ sauce or gravy.
  • In Belgiummarker, steamed mussels: mosselen-friet (Dutch) or moules-frites (French), a popular summer dish when the mussels arrive, typically from Zeelandmarker. Also biefstuk-friet or bifteck-frites (which may be served with beef or horse steak), with plainly seasoned fries or served with a Belgian sauce, and usually a simple salad. A quick and inexpensive traditional meal is a deep fried egg on top of a plate of chips. A Belgian tradition is putting mayonnaise on fries, although a typical frietkot will offer dozens of other sauces including ketchup.
  • In Canadamarker, gravy and cheese curds: poutine.
  • In Francemarker, grilled steak: steak-frites. In North of France, the Américain (American sandwich) is very popular and its consumption spreads in the entire country. In this sandwich, the French Fries are placed into a large piece of baguette, usually a third or half of it, cut in its length. A merguez, fried sausage or fried meat patty placed on top. Sauce is added. Usually, in the end, the baguette is pressed together.
  • In Germanymarker, sausage with curry-flavored ketchup or ketchup covered with curry powder: Currywurst. The sausage is sometimes chopped into bite-sized chunks. Another popular way of serving fries is with mayonnaise and ketchup together. This is called Pommes rot-weiß or Pommes-Schranke
  • In Hungarymarker, Wiener Schnitzel or other roasted meat served with green salad, as a regular Sunday meal.
  • In the Middle East, French fries are served in pita bread with breaded chicken or falafel, along with cucumber and tomato, and condiments such as hummus, tahini, or tzatziki.
  • In Chilemarker, chips are served with fried eggs, fried onions, and a steak in a national dish called "Bistec a lo Pobre" (Poor Man's Steak)
  • In the Netherlandsmarker, kroket and frikandel are the most accompaniments.
  • In Norwaymarker, Finlandmarker, and Swedenmarker, kebab, hamburgers, and sausages.
  • In Portugalmarker, chips are served along with dry rice (arroz seco), a usual combination, that is not the complete dish, that can include grilled chicken (Piri-Piri chicken), espetada, omelette or eggs, beef (prego no prato), and several other dishes and lettuce.
  • In Spainmarker, fried eggs: huevos fritos con patatas.
  • In the United Kingdommarker, chips are a popular staple. "Chip shop" (or "chippies") commonly serve several dishes with chips such as cod ("fish and chips") and battered sausage. British cafes, on the other hand, serve more traditional fare, such as fried eggs (double egg and chips). Sometimes served with a British full breakfast.
  • In the United Statesmarker, hamburgers: Burger and fries, and chili and melted American cheese: Chili cheese fries.
  • In South Africa, "slap chips" are served with a peri-peri or sweet chilli sauce with different strengths of hotness.

Health aspects

Fries cooking in oil.
French fries can contain a large amount of fat (usually saturated) or oils from frying. Some researchers have suggested that the high temperatures used for frying such dishes may have results harmful to health (see acrylamides). In the United States about ¼ of vegetables consumed are prepared as french fries and are proposed to contribute to widespread obesity. Frying french fries in beef tallow, lard, or other animal fats adds saturated fat to the diet. Replacing animal fats with tropical 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 oil could also be used, but beef lard is generally more popular, especially amongst fast food outlets that use communal oil baths. The picture on the right shows French Fries being cooked on a gas stove for fast oil temperature re-gain and better heat control.Many restaurants now advertise their use of unsaturated oils. Five Guys, for example, advertises their fries are prepared in peanut oil.

Legal issues

In 1994 Peter Stringfellow, the well-known owner of Stringfellows nightclub in Londonmarker, took exception to McCain Foods' use of the name "Stringfellows" for a brand of long thin french fries and took them to court. He lost the case (Stringfellows v McCain Food (GB) Ltd (1994)) on the basis that there was no connection in the public mind between the two uses of the name, and therefore McCain's product would not have caused the nightclub to lose any sales.

In New Zealand in 1995 some branches of the local fast food chain Georgie Pie took to calling their French fries "Kiwi Fries", in opposition to the French resumption of nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

In early 2003 some members of the United States Congress caused french fries to be renamed "freedom fries" in the restaurant of the House of Representatives in response to France's opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq. By 2006 the menu at the House restaurant had reverted to calling them french fries. It was rumored that some restaurants in Ireland renamed "French Fries" to "Box Fries".

In June 2004, the United States Department of Agriculturemarker, with the advisement of a federal district judge from Beaumont, Texasmarker, classified batter-coated french fries as a vegetable under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. Although this was primarily done for trade reasons – french fries do not meet the standard to be listed as a "processed food" – it received significant media attention partially due to the documentary Super Size Me.

See also




  • Bocuse, Paul. La Cuisine du marché, Paris, 1992.

External links

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