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Beyond Baltimore: Ya’ Want More Fries With That?

Visiting Amsterdam on the trail of the original fried potatoes
Visiting Amsterdam on the trail of the original fried potatoes
Reed Hellman Wordsmith

Belgium makes some serious claims about their fries, including one of the earliest written records of people frying potato slices. Circa 1680, a Belgian journalist Jo Gérard wrote about poor peasants accompanying their meals with small fried fish. When the river froze and they were unable to fish, they cut potatoes lengthwise and fried them in oil to accompany their meals.

In the town square of Ghent—a dour and dusty city—I had my first Belgian fries. A little kiosk held a deep fryer and a single gentleman laboring over a huge pile of sliced potatoes. Served in a paper cone with a little, two-pronged plastic fork and my choice of accompaniments, they were good--very good even--but certainly not the world’s best. And, I had to pay extra for ketchup!

I purchased my second helping of European fries from a vendor in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Called frieten, they were tasty and went a long way to diminishing the munchies acquired in one of the notorious coffee shops, but they certainly were not the world’s best. As with the fries in Belgium, the Dutch version was double cooked and served in the ubiquitous paper cones with an assortment of “sauces” as accompaniments.

Oven Fries

2 large baking potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Heat oven to 450°. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place dry ingredients in a sealable plastic bag or tightly sealing container and add potatoes and oil. Toss to coat. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

For more recipes and more of Reed Hellman’s signature culinary adventures, visit his Website at You can follow his monthly columns in Recreation News and read his feature articles in Business Monthly.


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