Whether they’re adding them to combo meals or slathering them in sauce and salt, people crave and consume French fries in many ways.
These crispy potato slices may be French in name, but they’re thought to be Belgian in origin. According to lore, French fries can be traced back to the Belgian city of Namur, where legend has it that the locals greatly consumed fried fish. After a cold winter in the 17th century froze the Meuse River and made fishing impossible, people turned to frying potatoes instead. (The fried potatoes got their current names from American soldiers in the French-speaking region during World War II.)
French fries have gone on to become a staple on menus and at mealtimes around the world. Here are 11 ways people enjoy the tasty taters.
This comforting dish of French fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds originated in the dairy footholds of Canada's Centre-du-Québec region, where fromageries produce its particular cheese, in the 1950s. Though poutine often gets associated with Montreal, it’s considered the national dish for all of Canada.
2. Garbage Plate
This Rochester, New York, delicacy was made famous and trademarked at a restaurant called Nick Tahou Hots. The mish-mash meal has a grocery shopping list of ingredients, including fries, baked beans or macaroni salad, white or red hots or other meats, an optional garnish of onions and mustard, and finally a spicy, meaty sauce. The Garbage Plate has been around for over a century, and its given name is thought to have come from local students asking for a dish “with all of the garbage on it.”
This German dish of sausage chunks covered in ketchup and curry powder and accompanied by French fries was invented in Berlin by a German housewife named Herta Heuwer. In 1949, Heuwer had gotten the ingredients from British soldiers in Germany and sold her snack from a food stall in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district. Her legacy was preserved at the Currywurst Museum, a Berlin attraction that sadly closed in 2018.
4. Fish and Chips
The backstory behind the emblematic pairing of battered fish and French fries is foggy—both Lancashire and London claim to be the birthplace of the dish. During the Industrial Revolution, fish and chip shops started popping up in England in earnest, and in the 20th century, the combination gained such high-ranking status that it was exempt from rationing during both World Wars.
5. Chipsi Mayai
In its basic form, this Tanzanian street food dish is an egg (mayai means “eggs” in Swahili) and potato omelet. To cook it, fries are usually spread out as a layer; the omlette mixture is then poured on top, sometimes with additional vegetables such as bell peppers or onions. The egg-and-potato combo doesn’t stand alone, as it can be plated with a tomato and onion salad called kachumbari.
This Latin American street food speciality’s name is a combination of its two key ingredients: sausage (salchi) and potatoes (papas). The beef sausages or hot dogs get sliced and spread alongside French fries on a dish. A variety of sauces, such as ketchup, mustard, or an ají amarillo sauce, help perfect this pairing. The dish is linked to Peru, but can be found in other Latin American countries as well, such as Colombia and Ecuador.
7. Truk’i Pan
Translated as “bread truck” or “sandwich truck,” the name Truk’i Pan comes from food trucks that are a staple among the late-night party scene in Curaçao. They serve barbecued meats, shrimp, or conch with fries, salad, or bread from 9 p.m. until the early morning. These orders often come with a helping of either a peanut sauce, pico de gallo, chimichurri, or relish.
Mussels and fries are another French-Belgian connection. The pairing is thought to have originated in Belgium, but also is a popular dish in France. In France, the type of bivalve mollusks used to prepare this seafood and starch combo can come from regions such as Brittany, which produces Bouchot mussels.
9. Furaido Potato
In Japan, French fries are known as furaido potato. The potato itself was introduced to the country by Dutch traders in the 16th century, and fries are now a fast food fixture in Japan. People can order them in the “Belgian style” or add flavorings such as furikake, a seasoned mix of seaweed, sesame seeds, and other ingredients. In 2014, McDonald’s locations in Japan were running low on fries and responded by making only small size servings available.
This Chilean order is a pile-on of a fried or scrambled egg, sliced-up meat, fried onions, and French fries. The heftiness of chorrillana makes it a shareable meal, and it can be ordered in pubs and restaurants in the city of Valparaíso, where it’s said to have originated.
In South Africa, the Afrikaans word for “slap” means limp or flabby. It also applies to slaptjips, a type of fries made by soaking cut up potatoes in a bucket of water and deep-frying them before dousing them in salt and vinegar and wrapping them in paper. These fries are also part of a popular sandwich called “The Gatsby,” which is filled not only with slaptjips but also meat, cheese, eggs, and salad.