Everyone loves them, and they are enjoyed the world over. Still, less well known is the fact that fries are a part of France's culinary heritage. No joke!
Even as the Belgians claim to have invented them, the Americans insist on calling them French fries. Regardless, one thing's for sure—they are delicious. Over 22 billion pounds of fries are eaten around the world every year, or 800 pounds per second! The rise of the burger goes hand in hand with the popularity of the French fry. In truth, fries were actually invented in France along the banks of the Seine during the French Revolution. Street merchants sold potato slices fried in a pot of oil to passersby. It was a Frenchman, Jean-Frédéric Kieffer, also known as Mr. Fritz, who introduced fries to the Belgians by opening up a fried potato stand outside the theater house in Liège. The rest, as they say, is history. It was most likely Fritz who first came up with the idea to cut them into strips for practical reasons.
While northern France continues to serve food-truck fries, which are wrapped in a paper funnel and eaten with your fingers, Paris now boasts entire restaurants that are completely dedicated to fries. Pont-Neuf in one example (www.frite-pontneuf.com). The quintessential everyman's food elsewhere around the world, fries can also be a gourmet treat in France. At Pont-Neuf, diners can choose from wedged fries, skinny fries, or even puffed and crunchy soufflé fries, which take all of the chef's dexterity to pull off correctly.