No, French fries are not originally from France. Despite the name “French” fries, the origins of this popular fried potato dish can be traced back to Belgium.
Historically, in the late 17th century, people in the region that is now modern-day Belgium were already frying thin strips of potatoes as a common food item. It is believed that the locals developed the culinary technique of frying potatoes in oil, creating what we now know as French fries.
The name “French fries” likely comes from the way they were cooked. In the late 17th century and early 18th century, French-speaking people in the southern part of Belgium referred to these fried potato strips as “frites,” derived from the French verb “frire,” meaning “to fry.” When American soldiers encountered these fried potatoes during World War I, they began calling them “French fries” due to the widespread use of French as a lingua franca at the time.
As the dish gained popularity and spread across Europe and the United States, it became known internationally as “French fries,” even though they were originally a Belgian creation. Today, French fries are a beloved and ubiquitous side dish or snack enjoyed worldwide, and they continue to be a culinary favorite in many countries.