Look around major Belgian town, Brussels, say, or Liège. What’s missing? Big medieval square? Check. Lively bar life? Check. US burger chain? Um…
OK, dotted here and there may be a rare Golden Arch or two, but so few you may as well be in Pyongyang.
The reason? Belgian frites. French fries to Americans, chips to Brits, these frites belges are a class above. They should be. Belgians invented them. Thus, Ronald and the chain gang from the other side of the Atlantique can’t hold a candle to the frites van or corner friterie you will find in any main town square in Belgium – and around any Belgian football ground.
Twice fried in Blanc de boeuf, a classic fat created by Vandemoortele since 1899, these are not thin, floppy excuses for a chip but sturdy, crispy and sprinkled with just the right amount of salt, having been casually tossed around a large metal funnel especially designed for purpose.
Served in a cone with a balsa-wood fork, complemented with a dollop of mayonnaise – don’t even think about vinegar or ketchup. Ta-da! The perfect snack, pre-match, post-match, filling, tasty, easily consumed, convivially shared, yours for a couple of euros, three at most.
Yes, of course, you can order them with hamburgers, frikandel stick-shaped hot dogs, but that’s if you haven’t eaten since the day before yesterday. Those who really want to push the boat out, there’s the mitraillette, the machine-gun, a half-baguette packed so heavily with frites, grilled meat, and so thickly lathered in sauce, the lucky owner will barely be able to close it up.
Classic stadium friteries include the unsurpassable Frituur Carlos, near the Jan Breydelstation in Bruges, in the same family since 1963; Le Stade, just down rue de la Procession from Anderlecht’s Constant Vanden Stock Stadium; and the Twist frites vans around the Stade de Sclessin of Standard Liège.