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The dish known as French fried potatoes, French fries, or fries in North America and Japan and throughout the rest of the world as chips or pommes frites elsewhere, are long, narrow pieces of potato that have been deep-fried.
A plate of (British English) chips; note their thicker size compared to (American-style) French fries
* 1 Name
o 1.1 Usage
o 1.2 Origin
* 2 History
* 3 Variants
* 4 Cooking
* 5 Accompaniments
* 6 Health aspects
* 7 United States political controversy
* 8 Chips in court
* 9 See also
* 10 Notes
* 11 References
* 12 External links
o 12.1 French fry manufacturers
In the regions where the word "chips" is in more common usage, the term "French fries" is usually also understood, but is reserved for the thinner American-style variant as opposed to the much thicker slices of potato found in "fish and chips". In the U.S. and Canada except for Newfoundland, "chips" usually means potato chips (called "crisps" in the U.K.), which while also made of fried potato, are a completely different type of food. In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa "chips" is used for both potato chips and French fries - the latter is qualified as "hot chips" if there is a chance of confusion (or slap chips in South Africa - slap, pronounced 'slup', being Afrikaans for "soft").
One proposed explanation of the origin of the North American and Japanese name of the dish is that it derives from potatoes that have been "fried in the French manner". The English verb fry is ambiguous: it can refer to both to sautéing and to deep-fat frying, while the French pommes frites or patates frites ("fried potatoes") refers unambiguously to deep frying. Thomas Jefferson, famous for including (then relatively unknown in America) European, especially French cuisine in his writings and recipes, referred to fried potatoes in this same manner.
It is also speculated that the word "French" in "French fries" may refer to potatoes which are French-cut, with a later derived verb from this term, "to French," which means "to cut in thin lengthwise strips before cooking" (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Ed.) On the other hand, "to French" is defined as "to prepare, as a chop, by partially cutting the meat from the shank and leaving bare the bone so as to fit it for convenient handling" (Oxford English Dictionary) in other dictionaries, seeming to suggest that the meaning of this process is not necessarily as set as it may appear. In addition, the verb "to French" did not start appearing until after "French fried potatoes" had appeared in the English-speaking world, although the term French-cut may have appeared much earlier.
Other accounts say that they were once called 'German fries' but the name was changed either for political reasons (Germany was the enemy of the United States and Allied forces during WWI and WWII) or for simple historical reasons (a traditional theory poses that it was in France during World War I that American soldiers first encountered the dish). This seems unlikely, as Germany was not as famous for its "French fries" as other European countries, in addition to the fact that German immigrants did not seem to bring the dish over to the United States.
The Belgians are noted for claiming that French fries are Belgian in origin, but have presented no absolute evidence; the French have also been cited as possible creators of the dish, though most in France associated fries with Belgium. The Spanish claim that the dish was invented in Spain, the first European country in which the potato appeared via the New World colonies, and then spread to Belgium which was then under Spanish rule. However, as Belgian immigrants lived in Spain at the time, it may have well been a 'Spanish' dish invented by a Belgian chef. Whether or not French fries were invented in Belgium or Spain, they have become Belgium's national dish, making belgians their "symbolic" creators, at least for the rest of Europe.
French fries have gained international prominence perhaps partly due to their pre-eminence in fast-food menus, propagated by fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King (Hungry Jacks in Australia). This came about through the introduction of the frozen French fry invented by the J.R. Simplot Company in the early 1950's. Prior to the legendary handshake deal between Ray Kroc of McDonald's and Jack Simplot of the J.R. Simplot Company, fries were hand cut and peeled in the back of McDonald's stores, but the advent of the frozen product dovetailed with Kroc's need for quick prep products and expansion of his new franchise across America. In America, French fries are typically served with hamburgers, a latter-day descendant of the French "steak-frites" combination. They are also often eaten with meat, fish, and vegetables or by themselves. They also make up half of the classic food combinations fish and chips and "moules-frites", a popular Belgian dish consisting of steamed mussels and French fries.
Many possible claims as to the origin of "French fries" exist.
Many attribute the dish to France, and offer as evidence a notation by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. "Potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small slices" are noted in a manuscript in Thomas Jefferson's hand (circa 1801) and the recipe almost certainly comes from his French chef, Honoré Julien. In addition, from 1813 ("The French Cook" by Louis Ude) on recipes for what can be described as "French fries" occur in popular American cookbooks. Recipes for fried potatoes in French cookbooks date back at least to Menon's "Les soupers de la cour" (1755). However, according to the Food Reference Web site, the first reference to French fried potatoes in English was in 1894 in O. Henry's Rolling Stones, "Our countries are great friends. We have given you Lafayette and French fried potatoes."
During the controversy over Freedom Fries, french around the world repeatedly clarified that the food was actually Belgian. Belgium itself also lays claim as the "origin" of French Fries. Jo Gerard, a famous Belgian historian, claims to have proof that this recipe for potatoes was already used in 1680, in the area of the Meuse valley between Dinant and Liège, Belgium. The poor inhabitants of this region 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. (Belgian Federal Portal) In 1861, a Belgian entrepreneur named Frits is said to have opened a stand selling this product. He is also said to have given it its own name, frites, which is the French name for the dish in Belgium. Even up to today every village in Belgium has several of these fries (friterie) stands selling fries as the main dish and, in case something extra is desired, a varied choice of fried meat products to go with it.
The Spanish claim for originating French fries claims the first appearance of the recipe to have been in Galicia, where it was used as an accompaniment for fish dishes, and from which it spread to the rest of the country and then to Belgium.
The British also claim the "Chip" was invented in Yorkshire in the 1700s where it is believed that the potato was cut to the distinctive shape so that they may be lined up between two pieces of bread to make a Chip Butty.
French fries have numerous variants, from "thick-cut" to "shoestring", "curly", and "waffle-cut". They can also be coated with breading and spices to create "seasoned fries", or cut thickly (often with the skin left on) to create "steak fries". 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."
In France, the thick-cut fries are called "pommes Pont-Neuf", cut about 10mm square. Thinner variants are "pommes allumettes" (matchstick potatoes), 3-4mm square, "pommes pailles" (straw potatoes), somewhat thinner, and "pommes gaufrette" (waffle potatoes), cross cut. The two-bath technique is standard. (Bocuse)
In Australia, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, and many other countries, the term French fries is only used by fast-food restaurants serving narrow-cut (shoestring) fries prepared in the American style. Traditional chips in the United Kingdom are usually cut much thicker, typically between 3/8 and 1/2 inches square in cross section and cooked twice (see Belgium below), making them less crunchy on the outside and fluffier on the inside. This results in a relatively healthier dish as the area saturated with oil is much less. Chips form one half of the popular British takeaway dish fish and chips. Almost every high street in the U.K. has a fish and chip shop or "chippy" in it.
In another example of two nations being divided by their common language, potato chips are called crisps in British English.
A typical Fritkot in Brussels streets.
A typical Fritkot in Brussels streets.
According to American culinary celebrity Alton Brown, Belgian pommes frites are usually fried in horse fat. Others maintain that traditionally, ox fat was used, although now nut oil is usually preferred for health reasons. Belgian fries must be fried twice, and are thicker than French fries, but thinner than British chips. Fries with Mayonnaise is a national dish of Belgium, often eaten without any side orders. Even the smallest Belgian town has a frietkot (a Dutch word literally meaning 'fries shack' which has also been adopted by the French speaking part of the country in addition to the French friterie; an alternate Dutch form is frituur, from French friture).
Boardwalk fries, are brine soaked fresh-cut potatoes, that are quickly deep-fried in 100% peanut oil, served in paper buckets, sprinkled lightly with salt and malt vinegar. Perhaps one of the most famous vendors of boardwalk fries is Thrasher's French Fries of Ocean City, Maryland, founded in 1929 by J.T. Thrasher. The term "Boardwalk Fries" was registered as a trademark by a franchising company in 1982. The Columbia, Maryland-based company was formed in 1980 by brothers Fran and Dave DiFerdinando. The Boardwalk Fries franchise has become a popular eatery at shopping malls throughout the country. In 2006, they opened two Boardwalk Fries locations in Baltimore's Oriole Park at Camden Yards baseball stadium.
In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the word chips is used for both forms of fried potato; although the phrase hot chips unambiguously refers to French fries or chips.
French fries cooking in the Joël Robuchon method
French fries cooking in the Joël Robuchon method
French fries draining after cooking
French fries draining after cooking
Some home cooks who prepare French fries from scratch cook them a single time in a generous amount of oil pre-heated to a temperature around 375 °F (190 °C) until they are golden and slightly crisp. The method recommended by most cookbooks, and used by many restaurants, especially those reputed to have excellent French fries, cooks them in two stages: first at a temperature at around 350 °F (177 °C), until the fries are nearly cooked but still limp and pale; then, after they have been removed from the oil and allowed to cool, at a higher temperature, generally around 375 °F (190 °C), until they are golden and crisp, which normally takes less than a minute. A third method, invented by the celebrated French chef Joël Robuchon for the home cook, is to put the sliced potatoes into a saucepan with just enough cold oil in it to cover the potatoes, then cook them over high heat until golden, stirring occasionally. Frozen French fries are widely available in supermarkets; it is not unheard of for them to be baked instead of fried.
The Belgian way of cooking frites is generally in two stages. First fries are 'pre-fried' ('voorgebakken' in Dutch) for about 6 or 7 minutes in oil preheated to about 130 °C (to get out most of the moisture), then they are generally taken out, tossed (to avoid clumping), and allowed to cool down. This intermediate product can be frozen for "instant" deep-frying later, or several batches of "pre-fried" fries prepared (e.g., when fries stands are opened for the day, or ahead of a large company of guests to the home) for rapid frying and serving later.
The second stage involves frying in oil preheated to 180-190 °C for about two minutes (generally the cook is guided more by the color of the product—a crisp golden brown usually being preferred—than by timing).
Many frozen French fries have been pre-fried, and can be prepared either by frying or by baking.
French fries are almost always salted just after cooking. They are then served with a variety of condiments, most notably ketchup, tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, hot sauce, mayonnaise, tzatziki, tartar sauce, fry sauce, Ranch dressing, brown sauce, vinegar (especially malt vinegar), curry or gravy.
Dutch Fries with Tartar Sauce, served in cone
Dutch Fries with Tartar Sauce, served in cone
In the Netherlands, (where fries are sold in snackbars), peanut sauce is also popular (also called satay sauce, after the Malayan meat sate on which the same sauce is used). The Dutch also use the word mayonnaise to refer to frietsaus (fries-sauce) a thicker, less acidic sauce made specially to accompany French fries (as made famous in the film Pulp Fiction). Another interesting combination is Patatje Oorlog (Dutch for: French Fries War), which is French fries with a variety of sauces, a variety that differs from region to region, and even from one snackbar to another. While it sometimes means mayonnaise (or rather, frietsaus), peanut sauce and chopped raw onions, in other places it means the fries are accompanied with all condiments available. Dutch snackbars typically offer at least 8 condiments or combinations of them (the condiments are never free in the Netherlands), but some serve up to 40 different styles. The Dutch eat their fries mostly with the famous Dutch snacks such as the kroket and frikadel.
In the United Kingdom the traditional accompaniments are salt and malt vinegar. More recently, particularly in the North of England, curry sauce is available from some chip shops.
In Australia, chicken salt is widely used in preference to plain salt.
The Germans refer to a combination of salted French fries ("Pommes", or "Fritten") with ketchup and a large Currywurst as Kanzlerplatte (Chancellor's Dish).
In Denmark the traditional accompaniment to French fries is remoulade sauce.
Kidd Valley, a small burger chain local to Seattle, began cooking garlic fries which became so popular they landed a lucrative deal to sell garlic fries at Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners baseball club). Later, restaurant chain Gordon Biersch began to serve garlic fries at their brewery restaurants and at Dodger Stadium.
In Utah, and the surrounding area, French fries are often served with fry sauce, a mixture of spices, mayonnaise, and ketchup. In the Pacific Northwest, especially the Seattle area, fries are often served with tartar sauce, which may be sometimes be mixed with mustard. In the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, French fries are the main component of a dish called poutine: a mixture of French fries with fresh cheese curds, covered with hot gravy. A simillar variant, Disco fries is found in several New England cities. In Newfoundland, Canada 'Newfie Fries' are comprised of French fries topped with turkey stuffing, peas, cheese and gravy. In the United States, fries are sometimes coated with melted cheese, called cheese fries. Often this is in combination with chili. Variations of cheese fries include fries covered with melted cheese, usually Cheez Whiz, mozzarella, Swiss cheese, or garlic and cheese fries (cheese with garlic mayonnaise). Mid-Atlantic States often put Old Bay Seasoning on fries. These are sometimes referred to as "beach fries." The American fast-food restaurants Checkers and Rallys serve "fully loaded fries"; seasoned fried covered in melted American cheese, ranch dressing and bacon bits.
In the Philippines they are often served with a sprinkling of cheese powder.
In Vietnam, restaurants are usually found serving fries with sugar over a dollop of soft butter.
French fries may contain a large amount of fat (usually saturated) from frying and from some condiments or topping. 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 1/4 of vegetables consumed are prepared as French fries and are believed to contribute to widespread obesity when trans fats are present. Frying French fries in beef tallow, the traditional but recently discarded McDonald's recipe, adds saturated fat to the diet. Replacing tallow with tropical oils such as palm oil simply substitutes one saturated fat for another. Replacing tallow with partially hydrogenated oil reduces cholesterol but adds trans fat. 
United States political controversy
On March 11, 2003, the cafeteria menus in the three United States House of Representatives office buildings changed the name of French fries to freedom fries in a symbolic culinary rebuke of France stemming from anger over that country's opposition to the United States government's invasion of Iraq. (French toast was also changed to freedom toast.) In response, the French embassy noted that French fries are Belgian. "We are at a very serious moment dealing with very serious issues and we are not focusing on the name you give to potatoes," said Nathalie Loisau, an embassy spokeswoman.
Even though the name change started with a few private restaurants across the country and was later picked up by the House of Representatives, many French people considered the quick and highly visible reporting of the name change needlessly spiteful, and a media-driven attempt to direct Americans' attention away from the serious reasons for French opposition. See media manipulation and anti-French sentiment in the United States.
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. Although this move was mostly for trade reasons (French fries do not meet the standard to be listed as a "processed food"), this received significant media attention partially due to the documentary Super Size Me.
Chips in court
In 1994, the well-known owner of Stringfellows nightclub in London, Peter Stringfellow, 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 (1984)) 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  .
* Freedom fries
1. ^ [http://www.thesunsetgrille.com/appetize.asp
Sunset Grille Menu> Sunset Grille (accessed June 27, 2006)
* Paul Bocuse, La Cuisine du marché, Paris, 1992.
Wikibooks Cookbook has more about this subject:
* Straight Dope Staff Report: What's the origin of French fries?
French fry manufacturers
* Simplot Foods
* Ore-Ida Division of Heinz Foods
* McCain Foods