“It crackles in the oil, boiling the joy of the world: the potatoes enter the pan like snow-covered morning swan feathers and emerge semi-golden from the crackling amber of the olives”. Pablo Neruda loved to write about food and these lines of poetry from Navegaciones y regresos from the late 1950s give us something intangible. The genius manages to recreate a memory, an emotion, a scent with words and mix them together. Power of art and indisputable power of food, especially when very famous like, in this case, french fries.
Poetry aside, the fame of this dish is indisputable. Despite its worldwide diffusion, however, there are many things about this seemingly simple recipe that we don’t know. Starting from the name and origin, which diverge from each other. French fries, in fact, did not originate in France as we know them today, on the contrary. The origins of the basic recipe are found in Belgium, where food historians maintain that potatoes were fried as early as the end of the 1600s, in a peasant context. The inhabitants of the villages who lived in the Meuse valley, in fact, used to eat fried river fish, which however became scarce in winter, when the rivers were covered in ice. Thus it was that the inhabitants of the Valley – the same one where Liège is located, so to speak – ended up dedicating their attention to the potato that arrived with commercial cargoes from the Americas (Flanders and Belgium all hosted the most important commercial ports in Europe, ed), ending up frying it just like they did with fish in summer and spring. In short, although the potatoes come from the New World, the American soldiers stationed in the Netherlands in the First World War knew this recipe here, in Europe, which today has derivations and reinterpretations all over the world. Accompanied with simple salt, with pepper (Neruda sings them like this in the continuation of his ode), or even with vinegar. According to a Reuters report from 2014 (the year in which they were nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status), “Belgian fries are traditionally sold, in a paper cone, in a “fritkot”, generally a shack or trailer. There are about 5,000 of them in Belgium, making them 10 times more common, per capita, than McDonald’s restaurants in the United States.”

UNESCO heritage or not, however, it cannot be denied that this dish is now widespread throughout the world in many variations, more or less territorial. So much so that you can draw, and we have done it for you, a tour of the world in 11 French fries to taste away from home.




Poutine

Poutine – Canada
A typical Canadian dish, poutine is much more than the simple sum of its parts. When you assemble the specialty of crispy, golden fries, piping hot gravy and cheese curds, something magical happens. They are much loved and widespread, even in the country of maple leaves, as street food.

Slap Chips – South Africa
Sliced ​​thick and dipped in vinegar as a marinade before anything else, the slap chips (the correct pronunciation is “slupp”), are fried twice and sprinkled with extra salt and vinegar before being served. In Afrikaans, “slap” means “soft”, and is almost an onomatopoeic to indicate the perfect consistency that this dish must maintain once bitten, once the teeth manage to overcome the crunchy exterior.

Furaido Potato – Japan
In the Land of the Rising Sun, the national recipe for French fries, loved above all by young people and protagonists of real social booms in recent years, looks to the sea. In fact, they are accompanied by Furikake, a traditional condiment of Japanese cuisine composed of a mix, then chopped, of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar and salt. And, if necessary, a significant presence of garlic.




Salchipapas

Salchipapas – Peru
Salchipapa is a popular Peruvian recipe for french fries served with beef sausages (or, alternatively, hot dogs) and topped with creamy aji amarillo sauce. This popular Peruvian street food, born – it would seem – in Lima, is actually widespread with some variations throughout Latin America.

Masala Chips – Kenya
Kenyan Style Masala Chips, also known simply as Masala Chips, are an extremely famous dish in Kenya, found in many restaurants. Definitely spicy and tasty, they are served with Masala sauce, curry powder, chili pepper in various forms and coriander as a garnish.

Kartofi sus sirene – Bulgaria
Despite the simplicity of this dish and its relative lack of fame beyond national borders, it is very popular at home. So much so that it can be found as a side dish even in the most elegant restaurants in Sofia. The sirene of the name is the typical cheese of the Balkan area which is grated in profusion on top of freshly fried potatoes, so that it remains partially melted and makes everything even more delicious.




Kartofi sus mermaids

French fries with butter and honey – South Korea
One of the few recipes in South Korea that is not predominantly spicy (in Seoul or its surroundings they could, in fact, compete with Calabria in terms of passion for this flavour), but the result of an immoderate passion for the combination of butter and honey, born about ten years ago. Sweet, however, does not mean that there are no spices: together with the abundant butter and honey sauce, they are in fact garnished with cayenne pepper or chiplote powder.

Chipsi Mayai – Tanzania
To all intents and purposes this is the national – but not official – dish of this country. Also known as Zege, in its simplest and most traditional version it is an omelette of eggs and potatoes, but fried. In fact, classic French fries are used, then combined with oil and eggs. This dish is usually served alongside Kachumbari, a tomato, garlic and onion salad.

Finger chips – India
Recipes for Indian finger chips are varied, as large as this country is. Some fundamental characteristics are the thickness, of the even thinner French fries, and the cooking: it is cooked only once and not double, as instead happens in Belgium. One of the most popular recipes requires them to be breaded in wheat flour before being thrown into oil; the seasoning then includes a sprinkling of chilli pepper and Masala sauce.

Patates – Guinea
The name is simple, but this dish has a basic peculiarity: the type of potatoes used. In fact, traditionally the sweet ones are fried, cut into thick slices, after being marinated in salt. In a variant widespread in the south of the country they are accompanied by fried plantain leaves and served with an onion, tomato and dried fish sauce.

Chili Cheese Fries – Mexico and Texas
One of the many variations of French fries served in the American continent, typical of Tex-Mex cuisine. Greedy and full of fat, it must be admitted, they are served with chilli (beef), melted cheddar, tour cream and sliced ​​spring onion.

v