The sweet potato as drawn by John Gerard in his book "Generall Historie of Plants", 1597. Although an image from a sweet potato, I have to say, they are also very good fried.
As I said on the previous post called Quick Research, from time to time I do a quick on-line research on small questions that I need a quick fix to. And so therefore, I'll be posting them too, just in case someone out there is interested.
Today's question is about something I've read some time ago, about pommes frites (french fries for you Anglo speaking people) that they were invented by a cook during the Napoleonic campaigns by throwing old potato slices into boiling fat, but the text didn't referred any historical document. It doesn't make sense when then I continue to read about more info on the subject as I posted below.
Anyway, sounds interesting enough to have a look at! And I think it goes nicely with Beef Wellington...
Firstly, the word comes from the French and means “fried potatoes”, being pommes short for pomme de terre (potatos) and not just pommes as in apples. The English word could have come from an American naming by soldiers who came to Europe during 2nd World War.
According to the World Wide Web there is a discussion between France and Belgium (isn't it ever?) about the origins of the fries.
A Belgium historian claims that they were made in the Spanish Netherlands (today Belgium) in the 17th century by poor people who would cut them in fish shapes and fried them. The problem is that this historian never presented the document he used to make this claim and therefore it is considered invalid.
According to other historians potatoes only arrived there in after 1735.
French, on the other hand, say that it was a culinary invention during the French Revolution. They became immensely popular and were sold in push-cart along the Parisian streets. We shouldn't forget that it took the potato a while to become popular, after it was “discovered” by the Spaniards in the 16th century, and after they did (with the help of the 18th century French Crown), cooks would come up with new ways of cooking this fashionable new produce.
What is interesting is that it isn't the 1st time I come across the use of “potatos” before they came to Europe form South America. I remember seeing a British documentary on a potato-looking root used during the Roman time and the Middle Ages and that then became extinct from the European flora. Could it have been that what the 17th century document talked about? I don't know; I'm not a historian.
Well, there you go. Come to the conclusions you want, because the only facts we know is that pommes frites come from Europe and they taste good!
Some I did the other day.