If you’ve ever played “one potato, two potato” as a kid (or an adult – hey, I’m not judging your arrested development!), today’s holiday just might ap-peel to you. July 13 is National French Fries Day! It’s also National Beans ‘n Franks Day, and we decided to do something rare and double dip. That is, celebrate both food holidays. I think we’ve only ever done this once before all year.
Despite the name, french fries aren’t really French. These deep-fried potatoes – known as “chips” in the U.K. and certain countries Down Under (which is kind of cute, but also confusing, because they call chips “crisps” and it’s all one big slippery slope into anarchy from there) – were actually invented in Belgium. The Spanish introduced potatoes to Europe in the 16th century, and before long the Belgians were frying up thin strips of potatoes in place of the small fish they could no longer fry when the rivers froze over during the winter. A French army officer named Antoine-Augustine Parmentier began championing the lowly potato in his country, where it had previously been viewed as unfit for human consumption in the mistaken belief that potatoes caused diseases. No wonder the French have a reputation for being snooty! He began hosting dinners for famous guests like Benjamin Franklin, King Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette, during which potatoes would be served in an effort to prove that they were not only edible, but delicious. It wasn’t until a great famine in 1785 that the French realized hey, maybe we can eat these, after all. A decade later fried potatoes – called frites – were all the rage. When they were introduced to America, fast-food chains named them “French fries” in an homage to their European heritage, not realizing that the Belgians had actually been making them for a good hundred years longer. Which is all fine, I suppose. Belgian fries just doesn’t have the same ring to it, you know?
Beans ‘n franks is a quintessentially American dish in which hot dogs are cut up and cooked in the same sauce used to make baked beans. The two had been served together for decades, until one day somebody – whose name is sadly lost to history – decided it was too much work to take a bite of a hot dog and then scoop up a forkful of beans, so what the heck, let’s just mix ’em together and save all this time and trouble. Presumably, of course. There isn’t a lot of history available on the origin of this particular dish, and my motto is: when in doubt, make stuff up!
I kid, I kid.
To celebrate, first we opened a can of Beanee Weenees in the morning. Nothing says breakfast like beans ‘n franks! Later in the afternoon, we were visiting Capitol Hill in downtown Seattle (we’re in the Emerald City this weekend) and we dropped by Dick’s Drive In for an order of fresh-cut fries. Both were wonderful!
- Sometimes You Just Have to Eat the French Fries (Giveaway) (5minutesformom.com)
- 1. Clara and the French Fries Attack (escribemarielawrites.com)
- French Fries (unintentionalvegan.com)