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The History of French Fries

It’s National French Fry Day! Do you know the origin of this beloved food? It’s surprisingly complicated! Legend has it that the original French fry was made in Namur, Belgium. There, people were known to fry fish, but when the River Meuse froze over in 1680, legend has it that they fried potatoes instead. The legend goes on to say that later, American soldiers stationed in Belgium during World War I dubbed the food “French fries,” giving rise to the name of the now-famous snack. However, there are a few issues with this story. Firstly, potatoes weren’t introduced to Namur until 1735. Additionally, fat was a luxury at the time, so it’s unlikely that the average person would have deep-fried their potatoes. Another version of the French fry’s origin story claims that French fries actually did come from France. The idea is that the French fry’s first form was the pomme Pont-Neuf, a deep-fried potato that was sold by pushcart vendors on Paris’ Pont Neuf in the late 18th century. However, the first written mention of the French fry as we know it today appears in an early 20th century Belgian guide called Traité d’économie domestique et d’hygiène (Treatise on Domestic Economy and Hygiene). So did the French fry originate in France or Belgium? Well, it is difficult to know for sure, in part because it’s unclear whether earlier written accounts of fried potatoes refer to deep-frying lengths of potato or simply sautéing round slices in butter. While we may never know for sure who invented the French fry, one thing is clear: over the years, the fried food has become popular in many cuisines around the world and is considered absolutely iconic in America.

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