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Date: 07/03/2014
Source: ACCW (BE)

Die Frites (BE) - Pommes (DE) – French fries/chips (EN) – Pommes frites (FR)
The French do not want to believe that it was the Belgians who first came across the potato. Nevertheless it is a fact that the majority of Belgians were feeding on this American tuber before the French were even aware of its existence.
The potato was also unknown for a long time elsewhere in northern Europe. It spread to Spain in the middle of the 16C largely thanks to one of Pizzaro’s comrades-in-arms. King Philip II of Spain presented Pope Pius IV with some potatoes in 1565 and assured him that they were good for keeping rheumatism at bay.
This small truffle, tartufolo, as the Italians called the root crop, became very popular in Italy. Thanks to a mispronunciation of its actual name, it later became known as “pomme de terre“ or earthapple, and then potato.
The potato spread far and wide north of the Alps following the publication in 1601 of the history of plants “Plantara Historia“ by the botanist Charles le Lécluse who worked in Vienna, Frankfurt and Leyden. It soon became a well-established crop all over Belgium thanks to the suitable soil and climate.
Peasants started growing potatotes instead of cereals which led to a lowering of the taxes on cereal production.
The first reference to “frites or chips“ appeared at the end of the 17C. The historian Léo Moulin wrote a manuscript in 1781 that was found by a colleague, Jo Gérad, in the family archives:
“The inhabitants of Namur and especially the poor people living in Andenne and Dinant top up their food rations by catching small fish in the Meuse which they cook in fat. When it freezes fishing is difficult, so they cut small fish shapes out of potatoes and fry them in the same way.
It appears that this custom has been around for over a century“.
You find chip stalls on every street corner in Belgium. They are sold in paper cornets and topped with all sorts of sauces like mayonnaise, ketchup and pickles etc.