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Belgian Frites

March 10, 2016

Belgium is known for several notable food items: chocolate, beer, mussels and fries.  In fact, fries, or frites, as they are known in Belgium and France are both claimed to be the national food of both countries and both countries claim to have created frites.  In the States, we may call them French fries, but the fries have a long history in Belgium and you can believe that my husband and I weren’t about to go to Belgium without giving some Belgian frites a try.

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On the day my husband and I spent wandering around the North Sea tourist town of Bruges, right underneath the town’s Belfry were two small Belgian frites stands with people lined up to get their hands on some of these amazing fries.  There are a couple of qualities that make Belgian fries different from any other fries.  First off, and probably the most important is that Belgian fries are twice fried.  Starting off with fresh, never frozen fries, the potatoes are peeled and cut to a fairly thick size – definitely none of this matchstick-size fry.  The cut potatoes are then fried once to cook the potatoes and so that it develops a skin on the outside.  That seals the heat into the inside of the potato which cooks it, but doesn’t crisp it.  The first fry doesn’t crisp the outside of the fry either.  Once the potatoes are fried once, they are set out to rest.  When the fries are cooled, then the potatoes are then fried for a second time in a different vat of oil set at a higher temperature.  This quickly crisps out the outside until the fries are a nice golden brown.  The fries are then salted, and served hot and steaming with a crispy exterior, and a steaming fluffy interior.  Serve up the Belgian frites with mayonnaise, which is the traditional dipping sauce in Belgium for fries, and you’re good to go.

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My husband and I wanted to get in on these Belgian fries, so we got in line and looked at the menu to figure out what our options were.  We decided we’d share some fries, so we went with the large size.  This turned out to be a good size for the two of us to share.  The price wasn’t bad, so the large size was worth it.  But again, we’re tourists in a tourist city about to dine on one of the countries most famous dishes, we’re not going to worry too much about how much the fries cost.  Now that we know what size fries we’re going to order, it’s time to figure out if we want sauces or not.  Ketchup, while it was an option is apparently a very American dipping sauce for fries.  Mayonnaise, which is the most popular dipping sauce for Belgian frites in Belgium was also a dipping sauce option on the menu, but there were also a bunch of other options I’d never considered before for fries.  Our options included curry ketchup (um, no thank you?), pepper sauce, curry sauce, cocktail sauce, tartar sauce, pickles, mustard, provencal sauce, samurai sauce (huh?), and Belgian mammoet sauce (what is that?), among a bunch of other sauces.

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We were here for the fries, and that’s all we wanted.  We didn’t need the sauce, or any sauces at all.  Generally at home here in the States, we barely touch ketchup to begin with, and since we wanted to taste the quality of the potatoes and we weren’t there to taste the sauces, we decided to just get a large order of Belgian frites sans sauce of any shape or form.  What we got was a palm-sized paper tray full of piping hot, thick-cut Belgian frites.  Normally, thicker cut fries would never be my husband’s first choice as his fry of choice is thin, straw-cut fries that are crunchy and crispy.  I’m the one that’s the fan of the steak fries that are thick cut and full of potato goodness.  It turns out, that my husband and I were both fans of these amazing Belgian frites.

Until you’ve had Belgian frites, you don’t know what you’re missing out on.  These fries were perfectly crispy and crunchy on the outside, protecting a hot and fluffy potato goodness on the inside.  It’s amazing how double-frying the potatoes could create such an amazing, flavorful, delicious and perfectly cooked fry.  We gobbled up those frites like there was no tomorrow, and when we approached the last few pieces we started giving each other the stink eye because we both wanted the last fry.  No matter that we could have just walked back to the Belgian frites stand and bought another order of fries, we were fighting over the fries that we had in our hands.  On a slightly drizzly and cool day, these hot-out-of-the-fryer frites were goodness to the very last bite.  Even without any sort of dipping sauce, these frites were amazing.  Lightly salted and perfectly fluffy and crunchy in every bite, these frites were out of this world.  We both just wished that we could get our hands on these frites every day.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 10, 2016 1:23 pm

    ALL THE SAUCES!! (please)

    ok, maybe not the curry ketchup. i would’ve tried it.

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