We all know them as delicious sticks of crispy golden fried potato, but there are many different ways French fries are eaten around the world. They must be one of the most recognizable foods on the planet, but some of the ways French fries are eaten around the world transform them. This is much more than a case of “Do you want fries with that?”
I have no idea what possessed someone to put this combination together but apparently it works and Canadians love it. Poutine is certainly one of the more unusual ways French fries are eaten. The fries are topped with cheese curds and brown gravy.
I couldn’t leave out Belgium because this is the place where French fries originated. The Belgians love fries. You might say that moules et frites (mussels and fries) is their national dish! Frietkot, stands, stalls, and shops are everywhere selling French fries in paper cones and the de rigueur way to eat them is with great dollops of mayonnaise.
Although British cuisine is now really diverse and includes dishes from all over the world, we’ll always turn to good old fish and chips for a taste of home. We like our chips (not fries) thick, chunky, a bit crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy inside, served with a big slab of battered cod, wrapped in newsprint paper (without the print). We always reach for the salt and malt vinegar and the condiment of choice, tomato ketchup.
In Australia and New Zealand they love their fish and chips as much as the British and eat that meal in much the same way as in the UK. They also however enjoy French fries/chips in many other ways. One of the favorite ways French fries are flavored down under is with Chicken Salt – a simple salt based condiment with a subtle poultry flavor.
Mujdei is not specifically designed for French fries but the Romanians love to dip them in it. Mujdei is a spicy paste made from minced garlic, oil, salt and vinegar. It gets quite personalized – some like it thick, others runny. There are also regional variations – for example, some make it simply from cream, ground garlic and salt.
The Japanese may have embraced McDonald's and other western-style fast food but they do it their way too. Buy your French fries in a fast food joint in Japan and you are likely to choose from a range of flavored powders to sprinkle all over. Take for example First Kitchen – their restaurants feature a toppings bar to create “flavor potatoes.” The flavors include basil, barbecue, Italian seasoning, chicken soup and yes, seaweed. Known as Shake Shake Fries in McDonald's, these are popular in other Asian countries too. In the Philippines they like sour cream, cheese and BBQ flavors best.
It seems that fries and cheese are not just restricted to Canadian poutine. In Bulgaria one of the most popular ways French fries are eaten is with a serving of grated sirine and a sprinkling of spices. Sirine is a tangy brine cheese, similar to feta.
The Dutch are as passionate about French fries as their Belgian neighbors and eat them in all sorts of familiar ways. What makes Dutch French fries worthy of being put on this list is joppiesaus. Developed by a café owner in Glanerburg, the secret recipe was sold to a food manufacturer and has been seen all over Holland (and Belgium) since the early 2000s. It is a mayonnaise type sauce flavored with onion and curry.
There are so many ways French fries are eaten in the USA that there’s no way to nail down a “national” preference. I have learned that in Oregon, fries are eaten with Miracle Whip; in Utah, the preference is for a Russian-dressing style sauce; in Minnesota, dipping fries in sour cream is popular; and in the mid-Atlantic states, they eat boardwalk fries sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. All over, you’ll find fries with gravy, fries with cheese, fries with chili, fries with chili and cheese, steak fries, curly fries … is America the land of the perfect French fry? Few would argue otherwise.
It’s such a universal food, and there’s such versatility and diversity when it comes to ways French fries are flavored. How do you eat yours?