Fried and True: French Fries from Around the World

By Rachael Funk

In the rich tapestry of culture, history, and the development of the modern world, there is something that can unite us all. One comfort food which overcomes man-made borders and transcends the discord of the world as we know it. Any way you slice it, everybody loves fries.

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Thick-cut, shoestring, bare or swimming in sauce, the possibilities for the perfect fry experience are endless! Falling anywhere on the spectrum from a quick snack you throw back in the car to a full-blown culinary expedition, the fried potato has achieved greatness at home and overseas. Here are a few ways our favorite junk food is eaten around the world.

Canada: Poutine

A trademark Canadian dish, poutine is more than the sum of its parts. When assembling the specialty of crispy golden fries, piping hot gravy, and the squeakiest of cheese curds, something magical happens. Maybe it’s love, maybe it’s a maple leaf miracle, but if your poutine is exactly right, you might hear yourself whisper “oh, Canada!” into your plate as you hastily prepare for your next bite.

Germany: Bratkartoffeln

One of several ways Germans enjoy fried potatoes, traditional Bratkartoffeln requires pan-fried potato discs seared with bacon and onions. A popular side dish for schnitzel, some people like to fry the potatoes the night before they are eaten so they end up double fried by the time they hit the plate. Guten Tag, indeed!

South Africa: Slap Chips

Cut thick and soaked in vinegar before anything else, slap chips (pronounced “slupp,” by the way), are fried twice and sprinkled with salt and extra vinegar before serving. In Afrikaans, “slap” means “soft,” indicating the texture the perfect slap chip holds once your teeth find their way past the crunchy exterior.

Kenya: Masala Chips

A favorite for many Kenyans, masala chips are a spicy, saucy treat. The masala-coated fries go well with barbecue dishes or on their own as a meal. Best served straight from the pan, these are a surefire win!

Belgium: Frites

The originator of French fries as we know them, Belgium has this classic under control. If you order frites in Belgium, you can expect thick-cut, double fried glory, often graced with a dollop of mayonnaise and served in a paper cone. Americans can get pretty salty about it, but much of the world enjoys mayonnaise with their fries!

Netherlands: Patatje Oorlog

Bearing a name that translates to “chips at war,” this Dutch favorite combines fries, mayo, raw onions, and peanut sauce. If you have a nut allergy or an aversion to mayonnaise, you may be better off ordering plain fries.

Peru: Salchipapas

Salchipapas is a popular street food in Latin America. What started as a poor man’s dish of fries, sausage, ketchup, mayo, and a spicy sauce called aji has become a beloved go-to menu item for hungry Peruvians looking for a quick snack.

Japan: Furaido Potato

These fries are sprinkled with seaweed, sesame seeds, and bonito to create a salty, garlicky wonderland for your palate. Japan loves French fries so much, a popular fast food chain caused a frenzy in 2012 when they ran a promotion for discounted fries. This sparked a “potato party” fad where kids would order an outlandish amount of fries, dump them out onto trays, and upload pictures of the ensuing decimation to social media.

United Kingdom & Ireland: Fish & Chips

History has had its share of iconic duos; R2D2 and C-3PO, chocolate and peanut butter, Sonny and Cher. Among these prestigious pairings, fish and chips has earned its rightful place as one of the most popular way to eat fries (or chips, as most of the world calls them) in the U.K. and Ireland. Sprinkle some malt vinegar on top, or splash some HP sauce on the side, and you’re in business!

United Kingdom: Chips and Curry Sauce

A staple for late night partiers in the U.K., chips and curry sauce is a drippy, delicious favorite. Unlike regular Indian curry, this chip sauce holds fewer veggies and isn’t as spicy. Make sure to grab enough napkins – curry on your chips is delicious, but curry on your pants is just plain messy.

France: Pommes Frites

Though you can eat them by themselves, these thin-cut shoestring fries are best devoured when paired with mussels (moules frites) or steak (steak frites). A popular meal served in brasseries and bistros all over France and the rest of Europe, you’ll never be able to eat steak by itself again. Bonus tip: if you like your fries truly dainty, order pommes allumettes, which translates to "matchstick fries!"

India: Finger chips

Recipes for finger chips are as varied as they are plentiful. One version calls for a coat of maida (wheat flour) before deep frying, which will add to the potato’s crispiness. Once cooked, salt, chaat masala, and chili power are dusted over the chips. Serve with ketchup, mayonnaise, or chutney.

Spain: Patatas Bravas

If you’re spending a night enjoying the Spanish nightlife, you will have no trouble finding these delectable nuggets of potatoey bliss. A blank canvass on which each tapas bar is able to paint their own creative masterpiece, this dish can vary from place to place. Generally, if you order this gastronomic triumph, you can expect crisply fried cubes of potato under a spicy red sauce or some kind of garlicky aioli, kissed with smoked paprika.

South Korea: Honey butter fries

The honey butter trend has exploded in Korea, making it super easy to find all kinds of honey butter flavored snacks. Among the smorgasbord of sweet and salty snacks, honey butter French fries have been introduced by fast food restaurants and can be easily be made at home by (you guessed it!) drizzling your hot, golden taters with honey and butter.

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