French fries, crispy and salty, are a staple of fast food joints and restaurants worldwide. It’s hard to imagine American cuisine without them. But where do they come from, and what makes them so addictive? This month at Sopranos Pizza, we’re uncovering the history of French fries, exploring why they’re so good, and sharing some fun facts about this beloved dish! And in the meantime, when you’re craving some gourmet fries, you’re always welcome at Sopranos!
The History of French Fries
Despite their name, French fries are not French in origin. The dish can be traced back to Belgium, where villagers in the Meuse Valley were known to fry thin strips of potatoes as a substitute for fish during the winter months when the river froze over and fishing was impossible.
The term “French fries” is believed to have originated in the United States, where they were initially called “French-fried potatoes” or “French-fried style potatoes.” It’s possible that the term “French” was used to indicate that the fries were cut in the French style, with long, thin strips, rather than diced or chopped.
Today, there are countless variations of French fries, including curly, shoestring, waffle, and sweet potato, all with unique texture and flavor.
What Makes French Fries So Good
One reason is the Maillard reaction, which occurs when the sugars in the potatoes and the oil they’re cooked in combine and create a golden-brown crust. This reaction produces a range of flavor compounds, including nutty, toasty, and caramelized flavors, that give French fries their unique taste.
Another factor that contributes to their deliciousness is the texture. The outside of a French fry is crispy, while the inside is soft and fluffy. This contrast in texture is what makes French fries so enjoyable to eat!
Interesting Fun Facts
- French fries were once considered a gourmet food. In the 18th century, Thomas Jefferson served “potatoes served in the French manner” at a White House dinner, making them a trendy and sought-after delicacy.
- The largest serving of French fries ever made was over 5,000 pounds and took over 70 people to prepare. The fries were cooked in a giant vat in a mall in South Africa in 2015.
- In Belgium, French fries are typically served with mayonnaise instead of ketchup.
- French fries were the first food ever to be cooked in space. In 1985, astronaut William Shatner (best known for playing Captain Kirk on Star Trek) used a special fryer to cook the fries on board the Space Shuttle.
- In some parts of Canada, French fries are served with gravy and cheese curds, a dish known as poutine.
Craving Some Gourmet Fries? Visit Sopranos Pizza!
If you’re craving some fries after this blog post, we don’t blame you. But we’re here to settle that craving! Check out our online menu to explore all the options for gourmet fries and our other delicious dishes. We hope to see you soon!