Les Frites de la Liberté

October 9, 2007 at 12:57 pm | Posted in food | 6 Comments
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La Frite Bruxelloise

Way back in 2003, the United States suffered a serious embarrassment. I’m a little ashamed to even bring it up again, but the historical record will show that on March 11th, 2003, two United States Representatives declared, in a fit of pique, that the House cafeteria should henceforth refer to French fries as “Freedom fries”.

It’s safe to say that this was not America’s finest hour. France’s reaction, however, was to my mind delightfully typical: when journalists called the French embassy for a comment, they were informed with a Gallic shrug that French fries aren’t really French, anyway — they’re Belgian.

Whatever the origin, it’s worth noting that the dish itself varies a bit from country to country. Whereas here in France, fries are typically served in giant piles next to steak tartare or roast chicken, in Belgium they’re considered street food, scarfed from a paper cone and loaded with any one of a dizzying array of sauces.

Luckily, those of us with a penchant for Belgian-style potatoes don’t need to go all the way to Brussels to get our fry fix. Instead, we make a much shorter pilgrimage to La Frite Bruxelloise on Oberkampf in the 11th.


The heaping cones served here will do to satisfy a craving for Belgian fries, although the sauce options are much more limited than at your average frietkot.

La William

Despite this promising sign, “La William” did not deliver the sauce extravaganza we had hoped for. Indeed, the Andalouse and Samourai sauces were surprisingly similar to each other, with the Andalouse being the slightly spicier of the two. Still, it makes for great hangover food, and at €2.60, it’s a lot cheaper than hopping on the Thalys and heading to Brussels. Oh, and if that’s not enough, they also offer the best American-style cheeseburger I’ve tasted here in Paris.

La Frite Bruxelloise
101, rue Oberkampf
Metro: Parmentier
Open Sundays



  1. Ah, yes, the infamous “Freedom Fries” incident… What fond memories — ha! I’ll never forget people asking me about that one… And I think the French reaction to the episode was pretty good, to be honest.

    I’m going to have to try out these Belgian fries — I loved the ones I had the one time I was up in Bruxelles — and I’d love to go back again for some moules-frites!

  2. Tips on nursing a petite gueule de bois are very handy, indeed.

    More importantly, it was really great to finally meet you and I hope we’ll get a chance to drink beer (and eat frites) together again soon.

  3. Alice — unfortunately, the shop is really just a hole in the wall, so no possibility of mussels… But if anyone has a good (local) recommendation for moules-frites, I’d love to know.

    Aralena — lovely to meet you to! This week is insane for me, but I’ll be in touch about that drink.

  4. All of sudden, I’m hungry.

  5. Oooooh…you’ve definitely gotten me interested….looks like I will be popping over to the 11th this weekend!!!


  6. I was reading on Wikipedia about Freedom Fries, and it was really interesting to note that in other times of war, they changed the names of foods as well. (Frankfurters to hot dogs, for one example). Freedom Fries, though, it definitely embarrassing.
    Anyhow, when we lived in Toulouse, we used to frequent a restaurant called “Le Belge” for moules frites…..excellent! Unfortunately, it closed due to metro construction and never reopened.
    Incidentally, when we went to Rocamadour, we got a Kebob sandwich and was asked if we wanted it “americain”–a mound of French Fries piled on top. Our French friends said OUI, we said NON. But I tasted theirs, and it was suprisingly good!

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