Showing posts with label Antoine Augustine Parmentier. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Antoine Augustine Parmentier. Show all posts

Jun 22, 2012

Spuds, Potatoes, and Fries

Among other definitions, a “spud” is a “sharp, narrow spade” used to dig up large rooted plants. Around the mid-19th century (first documented reference in 1845 in New Zealand), this implement began lending its name to the things it was often used to dig up, potatoes. This caught on throughout the English speaking world and this slang term for a potato is still common today.

The word “potato” comes from the Haitian word “batata”, which was their name for a sweet potato. Potatoes were grown about 2000 years ago in South America. This later came to Spanish as “patata” and eventually into English as “potato”. Potatoes were first introduced to Europe through the Spanish.

Exactly who introduced French fries to the world isn’t entirely known. Among the various theories, historical accounts indicate that the Belgians were possibly frying up thin strips of potatoes during the late 17th century. It was very common for the people to fry up small fish as a staple for their meals. However, when the rivers froze up thick enough, it was difficult to get fish. Instead of frying up fish in these times, they would cut up potatoes in long thin slices, and fry them up as they did the fish. Today, the Belgians still eat more French fries or Frites than any country in Europe.

The French originally thought potatoes caused various diseases. In fact, in 1748, the French Parliament even banned cultivation of potatoes as they were convinced potatoes caused leprosy. However, while in prison in Prussia, Antoine-Augustine Parmentier was forced to cultivate and eat potatoes and found the French notions about the potato weren’t true.

The French appeared to be the ones that spread fries to America and Britain and it, in turn, was the Americans, through fast food chains, that eventually popularly introduced them to the rest of the non-European world as 'French fries'. Because of this spread by American fast food chains, in many parts of the non-European world, 'French fries' are more often than not known as 'American fries'.