Dietribes: I Believe I Can Fry


• In addition to the waffle which bears their name, the Belgians claim to have invented "French" fries, although accounts are unconfirmed. Fried potatoes were around as early as the 1700s, where Thomas Jefferson sampled them in Paris and brought the recipe home. At a White House dinner in 1802, the menu included "potatoes served in the French manner."

• The "French" in French fry did not catch on until the first World War, where American soldiers feasted on these friend potatoes while stationed in France. From then on there was simply no stopping them - more than 4.5 billion pounds of fries were sold in the United States last year.

• But the Belgians are not to be deterred - "so seriously do they take their fried potatoes that four years ago a vocational center started to train would-be frites sellers. Classes are always oversubscribed. The school, in Leuven about 30 km (20 miles) from Brussels, spends a year teaching aspiring vendors the tricks of the trade, from the sugar content of various potatoes to techniques of double-frying. They have to write a thesis to graduate, says the school's communications chief, Lieze Struyf."

• What happens to the potato skins once the fries are sliced, shaved and shaped? The shavings were once sold as livestock feed, but by 1953 there was a tastier answer. Mixed with spices and friend, these little delicacies became Tater Tots.

• Sometimes fast food just isn't fast enough, which must have been the rationale behind these French fry vending machines.

• Just when you thought there was no way to make us any fatter ... ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to the French fry covered hot dog. Admittedly that may actually be delicious, but as for these chocolate-flavored, cinnamon-flavored, and blue-colored "Funky Fries" ... the public and I remain skeptical.
• Hmm, remember that little situation with French fries being renamed Freedom Fries? For those unaware, they are back to being French again.

• Sometimes it's ok to play with your food ... like if you want to paint a portrait with ketchup and fries, or take part in New Jersey's annual fry sculpting contest.
• I love French fries, you love French fries, First Lady Michelle Obama loves French fries. “They are my favorite food in the whole wide world,” she said. “I could live on French fries." Even though they maaaaay cause cancer ...

• But I can't end on such a down note, I love fries! I make my own, usually out of sweet potatoes. And don't even get me started on the Tater Tot, the most perfect food to eat when you're starved late at night. How do you Flossers prepare your fried spuds? And are all fast food fries the same, or is there a clear winner for taste and crispiness?

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‘Dietribes’ appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach. You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.