Tuesday, October 30, 2007

French fries, patates, and frites

If you are an American, reading this, when you think French fries, you think McDonald's.
Oh you poor, deprived people. I don't say this because I spent a lot of time in France—mais non, I have never tasted a fry a la Francaise.
I say this because I spent my childhood in Holland, where fries are a national treasure.
Known as "patat," Dutch fries are prepared fresh—not frozen!—at a variety of fries stands that, much like hot-dog stands in the Yankee New York, appear on street corners, in shopping malls, and anywhere else the fry urge could strike.
Perhaps it is not surprising that in Holland, where the potato is given almost as much reverence as the Dutch royal family, the number-one snack food would be crafted from the sleepy spud, while you there in the New World, who prefer to worship red meat, have made hot-dogs and hamburgers your fast food staples.
Whatever the case, you can be certain that if you are traveling to the Netherlands (or Holland, it's the same..) you will come upon the tantalizing scent of frying potatoes wafting around a corner and forcing you to follow your nose to its source. The fries you order there will be the thick, steak fry variety, and they'll be served to you in a paper cone and topped with a dollop of creamy mayonnaise (a distant relative of your Yankee globby mayo).

Fries are so commonly served this way that to order them one simply asks for patat "met", or "with." The fry stand will also have a menu of other toppings, including sate sauce, a chunky peanut sauce that we the Dutch discovered during our colonization of Indonesia and promptly incorporated into their fry culture.
French fries? Called frites in Northern Belgium (part of the Netherlands until 1873), the homeland of all this confusion.
And the British named it chips...food barbarians...a culture which they exported to your USA so easily....))


kathryn merteuil said...

bitterballen please!!:)

Hans said...

since when do you understand Dutch..)))
Yes, they serve bitterballen here in Turkey..!! With Hering, Jenever, and a good talk..))

kathryn merteuil said...

hm, that jenever is dangerous, at first you don't feel anything but then it shakes you up totally.
two of my favourites on our menu at work is "stampot zuurkool met worst" and "hutspot met klapstuk" with a budels bock beer. :)

Anonymous said...

We call them freedom fries here in the U.S.

Something I try to stay away from. Not the fries...the freedom . . .


Anonymous said...

and Hans . . . I don't know what you mean by saying Americans equate french fries with McDonalds? Life is not that simple here in the U.S., at least where I live. The dining establishments have healthy offerings nowadays. But for those who insist on 'french' fries, I don't think McDonalds is the culinary option. There's always Burger King . . . lol

Hans said...


Don't insult my Dutchchiness, or Dutcheness..)) We always have some 'French fries' for you...so that you know how to eat papates in the OC..))

Anonymous said...

No way your highness or Hans-ness . . .

Us here in the O.C. do not get enough patates except at the local Greek restaurant/tavern at Laguna Beach. It also helps they have live entertainment including belly dancers on Thursday through Sunday.


Bertus Pieters said...

The Netherlands and Holland the same? Oops!--

You really seem to mis the patat. I can imagine....


Hans A.H.C. de Wit said...

Bertus, are the Dutch from the Netherlands or Holland, I'm confused right now...)

Mis that country? No way...I even don't built up my AOW anymore..))
But I mis Haring and...een kopje koffie..))
And usualy, until May, I came over at least once a month...always happy to be back in IST.

B5 said...

This article was a really nice one :)