French fries are potatoes that are elongated and deep fried. They have different names such as chips, potato wedges, steak fries, finger chips, rites and wedges depending with the country you come from. In most cases, it’s taken as a snack or side dish and in rare cases it’s taken as a main dish. It’s usually salted but most countries serve it with heavy toppings.
In as much as this side dish or snack is enjoyed by most people, it’s never known where it first originated from. Some people argue they originated from France while others argue they were first known in Belgium. I did a research and found out how the French fries came to being and later known to the world as the best snack or side dish ever.
Most people assume that potatoes were introduced to Europe by either Belgians or French but that’s not the case. They were first introduced by the Spanish and in 1537 Jimenez and some Spanish forces found out a village in Colombia which people had fled. They came to know about some of the foodstuffs people in that village had such as potatoes which were known as truffles in Spain.
Twenty years later, potatoes were introduced in Italy and brought back in Spain. During that time, potatoes did not grow well in Italy or Spain and they were bitter and very small. As time went by, less bitter and larger potatoes were introduced and cultivated. In some parts of Europe, the potatoes began to grow but after resisting for quite some time.
In the 18th century, the Belgians fried potato strips at the Meuse valley which lied between Liege and Dinant, in Belgium. This people used to fry fish as their staple meal in most times. At times the rivers froze till it was difficult for them to fish or to get fish and as a result they came up with the idea to cut potatoes in thin slices and then fry them as they did to fish. The Spanish controlled most of Belgium at that time and they then introduced the potato to Europe. The Belgians were the first people to come up with the idea that potatoes could prepare food and then later it became known to the world.
The French fries later on became popular in France and some parts of Europe through a French medical officer, Parmentier Antoine-Augustine. He was arrested during the war that took place for seven years and he was given potatoes as his food. Previously, potatoes were used as hog feed and people never ate them. This is because potatoes were believed to cause a variety of diseases. In 1748, cultivation of potatoes was banned by French Parliament because they were believed to cause leprosy.
Parmentier was forced to eat and cultivate potatoes while in prison and found out the believe they had on potatoes was wrong. Later after he was released from prison he championed the potato as a food source. In 1772, Paris faculty of medicine said the potatoes were best for human consumption.
Parmentier began a very aggressive campaign with the aim of promoting the potato in France by having dinners that featured potatoes with dignitaries. In some cases, he hired armed guards that could surround his small area where he cultivated potatoes as a way of convincing people potatoes were very valuable. Also, he allowed the guards to let people steal by accepting their bribes.. In 1785, due to famine potatoes became very popular in France.
After the French accepted the potatoes, they became very popular and by 1795they were grown in large scale. The royal garden became converted to potato field and the French people learnt and invented how to make fries. The French fries then became very popular in France especially in Paris where push-cart vendors sold them in the streets. All this happened 100 years later after some people claimed the Belgians had already making the French fries. However, for some people they claim the French fries making was known at almost the same time for both Belgians and the French.
Before the French fries became very popular in France, the Franco-Austrian war was on and it took place at the modern Day Belgium thus it’s said the French soldiers might have been introduced to French fries by Belgians and then later they became popular in France. On the other hand, the French might have come up with the idea and then spread it to Belgium at the same time or they both came up with the idea independently. But all in all we can say the French made the French fries very popular and thus spread to the rest of the world.