Belgium and France have long argued for the invention of French fries, but a recent discovery by Bosnian gastronomic historian Krompir Pržena would prove that French fries have a distant Luxembourg origin.
French fries have become one of the most popular and consumed dishes in the world, along with pizza and pasta. We consume 11 million tonnes per year. The Belgium is the world’s largest exporter and the country where it is consumed the most per capita. The Belgian authorities have moreover decided to have Unesco inscribed the “Belgian fries” as part of the cultural heritage of humanity. For all these reasons, the country claims the paternity of the fries. She maintains that they were invented in Namur, in Wallonia.
The France She also claims the invention of what Americans call “French fries”, or “French fries”.
What if neither country is right? A very old document was found in the Balkans by Krompir Pržena, a famous gastronomic historian. A written record that would prove that French fries have their origins … in Luxembourg!
THE HISTORY OF FRY
One thing is certain, “the fried potato was not born in Belgium”, and it is a Belgian who affirms it, Pierre Leclercq, member of the Center of Gastronomy of Brussels. But to retrace the history of the fries, we have to go back several centuries. The potato finds its origins on the continent American. It was brought back from South America by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
And it was in 1629, in Peru, that we find the first traces of French fries. In a book written in 1673 by Francisco Núñez de Pineda. The author takes up his memories of captivity in 1629, and cites the fried potato for the very first time in literature under the name of French fries. But they are probably hash browns and have little to do with the current fry.
According to historians, the modern fry appeared at the beginning of the 19th century in Paris. Fry vendors offered fried potatoes in the Pont-Neuf district and Boulevard du Temple. Places where a lot of plays were performed. It was not until 1844 that the fries were introduced in Belgium by a fairground, Frédéric Krieger, who learned the trade of friturist in Montmartre. The recipe also crosses the Channel and the expressions “potatoes, french fashion” then “french fried potatoes” appear in recipe books.
A SURPRISING DISCOVERY
But a recent find done at the National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina would call everything into question. A series of letters written by a Frenchman, Hubert Lefèvre, brigadier general of the 8th hussar regiment in November 1795. Period in which the Duchy of Luxembourg was annexed to France.
Enlisted in the army of the French Revolution, Hubert Lefèvre passed through Luxembourg during the conflict between the French Republic and the United Provinces, which became the Batavian Republic.
In these letters addressed to his family, he recounts the daily life of the inhabitants of the city of Luxembourg. And in one of those letters, he describes a donut seller who was frying “in a mixture of oil and lard of the potato sticks that they call over there gromperen“. This is the oldest written record of the French fries recipe to date.