World Food Spot 4 : Pommes Frites

on Thursday, December 28, 2006

Some tempers and patriotic fervor may still be flying high over whether fried strands of potatoes should be called “French” fries or “freedom” fries, but in the culinary arena it is of little consequence because the champion is Belgian and the name is “Pommes frites”.

Frites are thick strips of potatoes which are fried twice to give its characteristic crispy outside and soft insides. It is often served in a paper cone with a dollop of sauce on top. It is the wonderful choices of sauces that add to the charm of frites. British like their “chips” soggy and soaked in salt and vinegar; Americans like their fries sized up and dipped in tomato sauce; Malaysians would prefer sweet chilli sauce. Frites connoisseurs can chose from scores of sauces.

The origin of frites are somewhat debated between the French, Belgian and even the Dutch. The Belgians are given the benefit of the doubt as they are by far the largest consumers of frites and of potatoes per capita. The Belgians also have a strong tradition of having stalls selling frites in every town. These are more than 7000 of these “ frite kots“ in Belgium and they can have a lot of character. The Belgians even tell a little story about its origins. During winter, a certain village traditionally fried small fish which was available from a river near. However, one year due to harsh weather, the villagers did not have any fish. Somebody tried frying potatoes cut into strips like fish and that is how the pommes frites began.

Back to the variety of sauces. Frites have begun to invade USA and one shop in New York offers about 30 of these sauces and these have been rated for us by Geegaw and friends. They are all Americans so their taste may not really represent the global view but it was the only taste test I could find on the web. I remember trying and enjoying the following; tartar sauce, rosemary garlic mayo, pesto mayo, Dijon garlic mustard, Curry Ketchup Special and curry sauce.

Another regional variation which merits some attention is poutine which is a French Canadian staple and a welcome body warmer against the bitingly cold Canadian winter. Poutine is like thick frites but it is always accompanied by beef or chicken gravy and cheese curds. Probably a nutritionist’s nightmare but all the more reason it comes highly recommended.

Gross, Messy, Unhealthy but DeliciousPoutine

If one of your new year resolutions is to eat healthier, then the good news is that you still have a few days to try pommes frites and poutine.


Le Nightowl said...

When I have "frites" (our genuine French fries) I have them "nature" (without any sauce), just salted.
I may dip them in mustard, if I'm in a fancy mood :)
Very interesting post,well documented and quite appetising!

Dave said...

Poutine ... Healthy? Not the one's I eat unless you call high cholesterol healthy ... :-)

I gotta admit though that it may be worth the risk to chow down on a portion of poutine.

Thanks for this lesson on one of my favorite foods!


Canada said...

Yummm, poutine. . . a heart attack on a plate if there ever was one, but every once in awhile I indulge.

And mayo to dip the frites - that's what the Dutch and those from the Netherlands Antilles prefer.

Josie said...

I have only had poutine once, and I'm afraid to try them again because I know I will become addicted. They are SO delicious. And deadly.


geewits said...

I like potatoes in almost any form. One odd (and fattening) way I like fries is with bleu cheese dressing. I try to have that only once or twice a year.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

yes, sometimes less is more as in having frites nature. I like mustard esp. Dijon Mustard with mayo.

In no way is poutine healthy ....but it's darn good. Eat it before you take up your new years resolution to eat healthy.

Thanks for the info on mayo and the Dutch. I've never been to Holland so its new info for me. And I will be looking up the atlas for Netherlands Antilles. I learnt to eat poutine on Univ. of Ottawa campus. The best one ever was from a stall near NAC on Rideau Canal. He never seemed to change his cooking oil which made the flavor twice as good and probably many times more deadly.

you, Vancouverites, seem to live such healthy lives. A little boring. Go on have your second poutine. Aren't I a bad squirrel?!!! I don't care anymore cause Santa did not give me a scanner.

Another healthy one. I'm not a big fan of bleu cheese but can imagine the combination.

To everyone, your lovely comments has made me quite hungry and yearning for frites and poutine. Unfortunately we do not have them here. Closest I can get are McFries, ugh! Although, my wife likes McFries with Vanilla Ice-Cream.

Freddie jr. said...

You have just given me the perfect start to the new year. A Montréal Smoked Meat Sandwich plastered in mustard and a oh so delicious - my mouth is watering just thinking of it - plate of Poutine. Could it get any better than that...

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