Is There A Difference Between British Chips And American French Fries?

While English is the language of both the U.K. and the U.S., we know there are differences when it comes to our vocabularies. Their "lift" is our elevator; they live in "flats," not apartments; they sometimes use the adorably whimsical "bumbershoot" when referring to an umbrella. We even have different words for the same foods: Our eggplants are their aubergines; our zucchini are their courgettes. And of course, their "chips" are our fries

But actually, when it comes to fried potatoes, or, as the Belgians originally ordained them (via Taste Atlas), pommes frites, there are some differences. (Fun fact: The "f" in "french" is lowercase when we speak of fries, because the word refers to the cut, rather than the country of origin, which is Belgium.) As BBC America points out, while all frites are french fries, not all french fries are chips, at least from the British point of view.

Spoon University explains that American fries can refer to deliciously hot and satisfyingly greasy potato pieces in several forms: skinny shoestrings, a standard fast-food style fries, waffle or crinkle cut potatoes, or even curly potato spirals.

To the Brits, there is but one chip, however, and it is shaped like a thick wedge, unlike like the typical, thinner American fry. The closest thing we Americans have to the English "chip" is what we call a steak fry. Chips are hearty slices of potatoes that are the perfect partner to the fried fish they traditionally accompany (via Spoon University).

Chips are the perfect partner for fish

As you might know, Americans and Brits differ on the proper way to eat these delicious potatoes. Usually, Americans eat fries with nothing more than salt, and often ketchup. Their usual companion, of course? The hamburger. But as BBC America cheekily points out, the definitive way to tell a chip from a fry is that chips lie alongside their perfect counterpart, the battered and fried fillet of fish: Fish and chips are a classic English fast food meal. Like us, the British salt their chips, but also often douse them in vinegar (ideally, the malt variety), and sometimes dip them in mayonnaise, a practice often attributed to continental Europe influences (via Cooks Info).

According to BBC America, another English chip innovation is the chip butty: Two slices of white bread are slathered in butter, and steaming hot chips are placed in between them to form a sandwich. Also, although cheese fries aren't uncommon in the States, "cheesy chips" (chips topped with grated cheddar) are very popular in Great Britain. Another British variation is chips covered in sauce, such as various types of curries or meat gravies. 

So, chips or fries? Let's just agree they're both fantastic ways to prepare a potato.