Belgian Fries

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About Belgian Fried Potato Stands

"As a couple of hungry customers wait in line, Jean-Paul Desmiet eases a kilo of sliced potatoes into a sizzling vat of vegetable grease, which bubbles with volcanic fervor. The unmistakable aroma of french fries, known here as frites, pours out of the cramped, open-air stand at a busy intersection in Brussels. While traffic lights change and cars roar by, Mr. Desmiet uses a giant spatula to skillfully nudge the frites around the vat, and then scoops them up in a smooth motion, depositing the new french fries into a steel wok, where they glisten under the somber light of another cloudy day in Belgium. ''This,'' says Mr. Desmiet, shaking some salt onto the fries as he hands them to a customer, ''is a Belgian tradition.''

Indeed it is. Scenes such as this one, which took place at the family-run Friterie Antoine, happen virtually every minute in Belgium, a country whose voracious frite-eating make it without dispute the Land of the Frites. There are no less than 7,000 frite stands in Belgium, or one for every 1,285 frite lovers in this country of 10 million people. This probably constitutes a world record, but nobody really keeps tabs on these kinds of things - and it's not something that Belgium is keen to publicize. That is mainly because this country suffers from a case of culinary schizophrenia: it both loves and reviles the frite. "

From a 1986 NY Times report by Peter Maass. 

For the latest on Belgian fries, visit this comprehensive site.

And visit the Frites Museum/Frietmuseum in Bruges/Brugge, next time you visit Belgium.