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French Fries: France vs. America vs. Belgium vs. United Kingdom

People in all four of those countries love French fries, but prefer them with different condiments. Just as a refresher, the French love their frites avec moutard; Americans tend to prefer ketchup; the Belgians favor mayo, and the Brits go for vinegar, usually the malted variety.

My take is that I love the traditional American condiment ketchup, but equally adore vinegar on my fries. Recently, I was goaded into trying mayo on my fries, and I must say, the Belgians are on to something. Have not yet tried mustard on fries, but will doubtless give it a go eventually.

Do you lot prefer one of the above, or do you tend to mix it up?

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  1. Many places in Belgium offer a few to many different dips. Some are based on Mayo and others not. One my favorites was curry sauce or curry ketchup.

    1. Mostly mayo, sometimes Dijon mustard or tartar sauce or ranch dressing. Almost never ketchup. Never vinegar - that's for the fish not the chips in my book.

      1. As a kid it was ketchup. At some point when i was younger I decided I liked them plain. Then I started eating them with ketchup again. Now it just depends whats there and what I feel like eating them with. It's either plain ketchup, sriracha with ketchup, or vinegar (preferably malt or apple cider). Sometimes i load them with a ton condiments. I'm definitely a condiment freak.

        1. Mostly plain but mayo if anything. Sriracha mayo or curry mayo are particularly good.

          Dislike mine with vinegar or ketchup and I've never tried mustard.

          1. Well, being British, it'll be no surprise that I like malt vinegar (and bear in mind that our chips are not fries - they're altogether much thicker). But I do like American style fries with a burger and ketchup (although I prefer my ketchup on a breakfast bacon sandwich).

            I think what I'm saying is that there's a time and place for every food. So, I never have mayo except when I'm in Belgium. But, sit me down at a restaurant in the Grote Markt in Ieper. Put a large bowl of musselen in front of me. And a large bowl of frietjes. And mayo. And I'm a happy bunny.

            Let me add one more to your list - as it's also a favourite condiment. The Dutch will have peanut satay sauce. Sometimes on its own. Sometimes with mayo. 'Tis an excellent condiment.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Harters

              What's a breakfast bacon sandwich in England? Is ketchup the normal condiment or is it your secret Topping? :)

              1. re: bbqboy

                A bacon sandwich is bacon on a bap (or maybe just between two slices of bread). These are often served with brown sauce (HP) although ketchup isn't unheard of.

                1. re: bbqboy

                  As Lizard says, a breakfast bacon sandwich is nothing more than a bacon sandwich for breakfast.

                  For me, ketchup with bacon, brown sauce (Daddies) for the sausage equivalent, mustard for with black pudding.

              2. Any idea how it goes in Deutschland, fries-wise? Spain?

                Harters, here in the US we also have thick-cut "steak fries." I wonder if these approximate your chips?

                6 Replies
                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  I love those fries; one of my favorite fish-and-chips places has those as an option. I ask for those and an extra pot of tartar sauce to dip them in. Also good: horseradish/sour cream sauce, and aioli, the latter especially with really skinny frites.

                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                    Spain : Salsa Brava or Aioli
                    I do not remember seeing them in Southern Germany although I am quite sure they have them.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      The huns like "pommes rot-weiß" = red & white fries -- which, you guessed it, means with ketchup & mayo.

                      As a kid growing up, mayo was THE condiment for fries, and it took me till my 20s to like ketchup on them. The combo is excellent, and it is my go-to fries sauce. Tho I am fond of sriracha mayo, too!

                      A year ago, after an 'enhanced' evening in Amsterdam, I tried my first friets with 'oorlog saus' -- that's the mayo, peanut sauce, raw diced onion concoction. I had heard about it many times before, but pronounced it to be unacceptably disgusting.

                      Not sure if it was my state of mind and the time of night, but it was much, much better than expected. Not much romance after that kinda food, tho '-)

                      But mustard on fries? That's just wrong.

                      Spain's got their patatas bravas, which come with a spicy tomato sauce and/or aioli.

                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        English chips are hand cut and are thick like steak fries but somehow are soggy after frying. They get wrapped in white butcher paper with fish on top, and by the time you get home have slightly steamed in the paper and get stuck together. No two chips are the same size or thickness. Malt vinegar and ketchup for me though brown sauce is also good with chips for me.
                        On American fries I like ketchup. 5 Guys fries take kindly to malt vinegar which they supply.

                        1. re: smartie

                          smartie describes why British fish & chips are so often bloody awful.

                          Whilst the Brit chip is never supposed to be as crisp as American fries, most fish & chip shops fry at too low a temperature (and for insufficiently long) to attain the fully cooked, yet slightly floppy, texture that it's supposed to be.

                          1. re: Harters

                            ooh I agree partially cooked chips are really awful.

                      2. Plain.....Rarely ketchup.....but enjoy a dip in a chocolate malt sometimes..........

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Uncle Bob

                          wendy's fries and and a frosty! perfect combination.

                          1. re: bbqboy

                            actually, Wendy's fries dipped into Wendy's Chile.................

                            I don't eat Ketchup, Mayo, Mustard or Malt Vinegar

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              I can't disagree there. Especially with their weird vinegary sauce packets. Or better yet, all 3! :)

                        2. personally i like mine plain (i hear you say 'borrrrrriiiiiiiing) and thick, twice cooked. it's rather nice with currywurst sauce (usually also with sliced wurst) in Germany (first pic: http://saudades.proboards.com/index.c... ). in Belgique it's normal to top your chips with both mayo and a stewed/braised meat concoction (pics down middle of page: http://saudades.proboards.com/index.c... ). in the UK i like it best plain and with codfish. in Netherlands one may ruin it with peanut sauce-mayo-raw onion (all 3 things at the same time, and hopefully not sitting next to one eating it on the train).

                          you have mayo, and you have mayo for chips/fries. Belgian mayo is a little different than Dutch.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Pata_Negra

                            "in Netherlands one may ruin it with peanut sauce-mayo-raw onion"

                            well, that's just your opinion, man. '-D

                            1. re: linguafood

                              i add tabasco sauce to leberkaes roll or 'Nuernberger bratwurstchen im Weckla' :D a couple of people nearby find it 'shocking'.

                            2. re: Pata_Negra

                              "Belgian mayo is a little different than Dutch"

                              Interesting observation. Curious to know how it differs - I don't have a skilled palate when it comes to mayo, so I suspect I might have generally thought that "catering mayo" was "catering mayo" and not detected any difference. Would there be a difference between the Dutch and French speaking areas of Belgium? FWIW, "catering mayo" in the Dutch area seems to be exactly like "catering mayo" in the UK.

                              1. re: Harters

                                "Would there be a difference between the Dutch and French speaking areas of Belgium?"

                                Not really, a lot of the friteries and frituurs often use the same brands of sauces.

                                1. re: Harters

                                  generally, Belgian is sour. btw, i meant 'Fritessaus' when i said mayo. it's a bit confusing, these two. in any case, Belgian is sour, Dutch is creamier.

                              2. As the discussion has veered--happily--into the thickness of fries as well as their condiments, I'll go on record as stating my preference for thin-cut, crispy fries. Ore-Ida makes what they call "Fast Food Fries," and I really like them.

                                PS--What's "salsa brava"? A spicy ketchup, perhaps?

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Salsa brava is basically an strong aioli with tomato, red wine vinegar and sometimes pimenton (smoked paprika), paprika or roasted peppers.

                                  1. re: chefj

                                    Thanks. Sounds good.

                                    Is the tomato diced, pureed, or in sauce form? And is salsa brava an all-around condiment or made especially for fries?

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      P.K. either style is a smooth sauce. Some versions also include cumin.

                                    2. re: chefj

                                      Classic salsa brava is not alioli based. It's a tomato based sauce. In Catalunya and some other parts of Spain it's what chefj describes above.

                                      1. re: SnackHappy

                                        I'm assuming that salsa brava is the sauce that would accompany the tapa - patatas bravas - in which case I agree that it's usually tomato based in my experience.

                                        Never seen it served with patatas fritas though.

                                        1. re: Harters

                                          You can get salsa brava on your fries at fast food places like Pans & Company. I don't think it's widely used on fries in Spain. I've also seen it the other way 'round where the patatas bravas were made with french fries instead of diced potatoes at Tapaç24, but that's just one place.

                                    3. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      If their crispy on the outside - and they absolutely HAVE to be for me to like them, I don't care how thin or thick they are. Actually, I like the 'regular' sized ones best, I guess. The fast food fries get too crispy sometimes, where the inside turns kinda hard and mealy. With the regular ones (slightly thicker), you get the awesome crispy crust and the fluffy, potato-y inside...

                                      1. re: linguafood

                                        I hear you. But I just prefer the mouth feel of the thin fries. I can also eat them faster. ;)

                                    4. plain, mayo or BBQ sauce. =)

                                      1. read about how some countries like to eat their fried potatoes here: http://www.reference.com/browse/pomme...

                                        1. Vinegar is also popular in Canada. As is gravy.

                                          My favourite is vinegar, preferably malt, and coarse salt. If I want something more hearty, I'll dip them in gravy.

                                          Spicy fries, though, don't work with vinegar - they should have ketchup.

                                          1. I like mine with mayo. Also like 'em with horseradish sandwich sauce, regular or smoky.
                                            And malt vinegar is great once in a while.

                                            1. My condiment choice depends on the fry. If they're thick, I like malt vinegar. If they're thinner I prefer them plain or occasionally with a bit of ranch dressing.