The oldest known recipe for fries is in the cookery book ‘L’Economie culinaire’ (Ghent, 1861) and was written by the Ghent master chef Philippe Edouard Cauderlier. Older, for example French, cookery books also already name fries, but then in different shapes, such as slices.
Originally, a snack kiosk would only serve salted fries. Onion sauce is generally seen as the oldest snack kiosk sauce. It consists of thin strands of stewed onions and white beans cooked until mushy, a little vinegar, flour and possibly a few spoons of whipped cream. Various different sauces became popular starting from the nineteen thirties. After World War II, almost every snack kiosk served fries with mayonnaise or pickles, or a scoop of pickled mussels, a hard-boiled egg, a sausage, a portion of beef stew, a dry meatball or a saveloy.
Around 1970, in parallel to the development of the frozen food industry, a whole wave of new products appeared in the snack kiosks and nowadays customers have an enormous choice of ‘side dishes’, some with weird and wonderful names, such as: Ambiorixes, Aperios, bami slices, Belcantos, bear snacks and bear paws, Bermuda sticks, Bicky-Burgers, bitterballs, Carreros, Chicken dots, Chix, Chixcorns and Chicken fingers, Crizzlys, Dynamiets, Fishcorns, Giganticos and Goldwings, Golfers, Haky’s and Hotbeefs, cheese, shrimp or meat croquettes, chicken clubs, mammoth sausages and Mexicanos, Sajoeras, Sambalas and Samoerais, shashliks, Sito-golds, Spablos and tacos, Ragoûzi, flame pipes, vol-au-vents and goulash croquettes, Fire eaters, gypsy sticks, etc. What West-Flemings call a ‘frikandel’, is called a “curryworst” (curry sausage) in Antwerp and a ‘long hamburger’ in Limburg, whilst in Brussels a frikandel is a meatball …
And the array of sauces is just as impressive. Even the humblest snack kiosk will have a plethora of pots, pails and dispensers containing mayonnaise, pickles, tartare sauce, cocktail sauce, pepper sauce, curry and tomato ketchup, rich gravy, curry sauce, garlic sauce, etc. as well as a variety of sauces specifically to accompany certain products. This abundance of side dishes and sauces makes it clear that the snack kiosk sector is much broader than just potatoes. Furthermore, around the middle of the 19th century, many transport and meat-processing companies as well a sauce manufacturers were founded, when the snack kiosk was also emerging.
Should fries be served in a cone-shaped bag or in a tray? Fans of the bag point out the old-fashioned feel, the fact that the fries stay hot for longer but above all that you get to lick your fingers. They feel it simply enhances the enjoyment. Fans of the tray consider the dirty fingers you get as a result of the bag “not done” and they do not like ‘having no control over the distribution of the sauce’ or the ‘poor ventilation’ of the cone-shaped bag. Even though the latter is dealt with by the new, ‘cubist’ cone-shaped bag with ventilation holes. What’s more, opinion is divided on how best to eat your fries at the snack kiosk: with your fingers or with a small plastic or wooden fork.