This Is Where The Name French Fry Actually Comes From

While we can all agree that french fries are a food benevolently given to us by the gods themselves, it turns out that the moniker may be a "geographical misnomer," according to National Geographic. Like it or not, the writer insists, ordering your Big Mac with a side of Belgian fries would probably be more accurate. And, if anyone knows which nation a food geographically belongs to, it's gotta be National Geographic, right?

So if it's Belgium, not France, that's credited with the original fried strip of potato, then how did the french fry get its name? A fry by any other name would taste as salty, no? Well, no, actually. The fried potato has certainly made its rounds on the global culinary scene, historically speaking, and the conflicting origin stories and cultural variations might account for its confusing name. Or, it could be as simple as a "linguistic goof," contributed to the English lexicon by American soldiers in World War I. To get to the bottom of things, we'll need a short history lesson. But don't worry — it's about french fries.

The 'french' part may be problematic, but it seems to be here to stay

According to National Geographic, Belgians along the River Meuse had a charming habit of eating fried fish during the summer, and then switching to fried potatoes in the winter, when the river had frozen over and farm-to-table made more sense than ice-to-table. The story goes that American soldiers who were in the area during World War I "discovered" these delicious rays of salty sunshine and dubbed them "french fries" because the Belgians who introduced them spoke French. Perhaps this is why BBC Travel makes the case for renaming the french fry the "Francophone fry."

The French themselves have something to say about that origin story, of course, because as far back as the 18th century they were known to sell french fry-like snacks on Paris's Pont Neuf. In one of the more egregious forms of historical white-washing, Thomas Jefferson is credited with bringing the french fry to America around that same time after having James Heming, the brother of Sally Heming, trained as a chef during his time as the American Minister in France. Incidentally, while America had to endure a few years of the ridiculous movement to call french fries "freedom fries," in protest of France's refusal to support America's invasion of Iraq, no one has ever suggested the renaming of french fries as "Heming fries." Until now, that is.