Chips, Crisps or Fries – How Do You Eat Yours?

Boulogne-Sur Mer Moules et Frites

“Everything comes with chips, which are French fries. You put vinegar on them.  Cookies are biscuits and potato chips are crisps” – Scott Walters

Just a short time ago I wrote a post where I speculated on the origin of the humble dish of potato chips or, depending upon dining or geographical preference, French fries.  There were an unusually high number of comments  and responses (more than two) so blatantly exploiting unexpected success I thought I would follow it up and carry out some more research and punctuate the results with some personal reflections.

This time I am going to take a look at how people prefer to eat their chips and watch out because I am going to award points for style.

The post was my report on eating fried potatoes in a Friterie in Northern France so it is only really polite to start with our nearest continental neighbours.

Friteries are a feature of this part of northern Europe and are a simple place, usually outside on wooden benches, to buy and eat French fries accompanied by a selection of traditional sauces and accompaniments.  The thin strips of potato are fried twice, first to drive out the moisture and second to achieve the essential golden crispness of the French Fry.

You might expect the French, along with close neighbours the Belgians and the Dutch to know a thing or two about chips and they do make a good job of cooking them it has to be grudgingly said but as soon as they are served up they demonstrate a total lack of culinary style and taste.

French Fries with Mayonnaise

They immediately apply a dollop of horribly sloppy mayonnaise!

Now mayonnaise is fine on lettuce leaves or as an ingredient in a McDonalds burger, it gives them a bit of taste after all, but it really shouldn’t be smeared all over a helping of lovingly prepared  potato chips and I am reminded here about a scene from the film Pulp Fiction and a conversation between Jules and Vincent…

… “Do you know what they put on their French Fries in Holland instead of Ketchup?”  – “What? “ – “Mayonnaise” – “No Way.” – “Yes, I’ve seen them do it man they f*****g drown them in that s**t.”

In Holland they do unspeakable things to the chip – They serve patatje oorlog which translates as “war chips” and is a toxic combination of French fries, mayo, raw onions and Indonesian satay sauce! What?

Marks out of 10 for the French and the Belgians  – 6 and for the Dutch only 4.

However, if you think that is bad then let’s cross the River Rhine into Germany where they serve up a variation called pommes rot-weis (potatoes red and white) named rather unimaginatively it is said after the colour scheme on level-crossing barriers and this toxic combination is achieved by smothering the poor chips in not just the evil mayonnaise but a good slug of tomato ketchup for good measure which has the effect of turning the classic dish into a sort of Salvador Dali gastro-interpretation.  I don’t know about the colour of level crossing barriers more like the rags and blood of a barbers pole if you ask me.

Marks out of 10 for the Germans – 4.


As I mentioned in my previous post Spain makes a creditable claim to be origin of chips so let’s head south now across the Pyrenees into Iberia.

Spain has patatas aioli which is a mayonnaise with garlic and having already dismissed mayonnaise as inappropriate then the addition of the foul tasting noxious onion bulb is not going to improve it one taste bud notch in my opinion; and then there is patatas bravas with a spicy sauce whose ingredients vary from region to region. Generally I am a big fan of Spanish Tapas but my recommendation would have to be to avoid the patatas bravas at all costs.


I have two issues with them. First of all they don’t even look like chips and instead of being long and slender they are served in solid lumps of fried potato and secondly the bravas sauce is often so fierce that it completely spoils the dish all together and you can add to that the fact that it frequently (depending on region) includes a whole host of odd ingredients such as chorizo, baked chicken or fried fish, none of which in my opinion should be anywhere near a sauce for simple chips –  if you want to muck about with vegetables then stick to pumpkins at Halloween.

The Spanish like these things so much that they are even served in McDonalds…

Patatas Bravas McDonalds

And in other weird combinations in street food shops…


Marks out of 10 for the Spanish – 3.

Nearby Italy shouldn’t really be featuring because they don’t really do chips or fries.  There is an awful lot of street food in Italy but this is mostly pizza and deep fried rice balls.  I did come across this food stall in Naples which sold all sorts of fried food served in a brown paper cone and one of the options was fried potatoes which looked more like English chips than French Fries.

Italy Chip Shop

I am not going to score the Italians because that wouldn’t really be very fair.

Hastily retreating to the United Kingdom I am first going to head north to Scotland despite the fact that Scots deep fry chocolate so cannot really be taken seriously in matters culinary.  In Glasgow and Edinburgh they have a fondness for gravy with chips and I find that odd because in my culinary opinion gravy should only really be served up with the weekly Sunday roast.


Having said that it is really rather tasty and my grandchildren like it served that way so marks out of 10 for the Scots – 7.

Which brings me back rather neatly to England and especially my home town, the fishing port of Grimsby.  They know a thing or two about chips in Grimsby let me tell you and there is a chip shop in every street – sometimes two and people there know best how to cook them and to eat them.

Grimsby Fish & Chips

Never mind the fancy restaurant trend for twice or even thrice fried potatoes they just cut them up and sling them in a vat of boiling fat or preferably beef dripping and then serve them piping hot and crispy on the outside with delicate fluffy middles with the only two accompaniments that chips really need – a generous sprinkle of salt and lashings of good vinegar.  No mayonnaise, no gravy, no tomato sauce and definitely no curry!


Marks out of 10 for the English – 10 – of course.

So what about the USA and Canada you might ask.  Well to be honest I have dismissed the New World completely.  Is that fair?  I think so.

Whilst I am prepared to concede that they know how to prepare French Fries in McDonalds and other similar places the bottom line is simply this – they don’t even know what chips are, they think they come in a foil packet.   Americans and Canadians please take note – these are not potato chips they are potato crisps!

My research informs me that in Australia they cannot make their minds up whether they are potato crisps or potato chips.  Let me help my antipodean pals on this point – they are potato crisps!

Potato Chips (Crisps)

Anyway marks out of 10 for the North Americans – 0.

This might seem a little harsh but the rules are that you have got to compare chips with chips.

Anyway, enough of all this, let me tell you my favourite.  In this picture taken in France my mum has gone for the tomato ketchup option and is wagging her fry around to prove it.  Alan has kept things simple and luckily is not wagging his fry at anyone, my brother Richard, who has a bit of a reputation for wagging his fry, has gone for the classic salt and vinegar combo and although I am not in the picture (obviously I was taking it) you can clearly see my preferred accompaniment is a bottle of cold beer – just don’t mistake it for the vinegar and pour it over the chips!

So, over to you, How Do You Eat Yours, what is your favourite accompaniment?

Wissant Friterie France


117 responses to “Chips, Crisps or Fries – How Do You Eat Yours?

  1. Crisps really does make more sense for a name for our chips. They are quite crispy. Not at all sure how french fries turned into chips though. I tend to like my chips/french fries without any accoutrements. I would think vinegar would make them rather soggy. As for the zero rating… I just consider the source! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in Australia and I say crisps for the things in the packets. As for chips, I love them with or without condiments. But condiments must be on the side and used sparingly, unless I splash on the vinegar.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love that Pulp Fiction conversation from two gun toting murderers – hilarious!


  4. Very harsh to the North Americans but at least here “French fries” are served with condiments on the side. However in Eastern Canada there is poutine with curds of cheese and gravy. None for me thanks but there people are gaga for the stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Most Australians like to keep things simple and just call both the packet variety and the hot variety “chips”. But if we’re talking about the hot variety, the best ones are made by the Greeks who own most of the fish and chip shops.

    But my nomination for my all-time favourite consumption of chips is curried chips for breakfast eaten at a table in the sunshine on a mountain in Nepal. So there.


  6. A fried potato by another name is still . . . wait for it . . . a fried potato. In the US, they have different names depending on the shape. There are french fries, home fries, steak fries, curly fries, and a few other nom de pomme frites. Some have the skin on, some have the skin off. Most American stick to ketchup on the side, though a mayo based salad dressing/dip (Ranch) has gained in popularity. Our neighbors to the north use vinegar. And, while the poutine mentioned by Sue is a bit over the top, it should be experienced at least once, but in Canada, not in an American restaurant. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always think of fried potatoes being circular rings that are best with breakfast.
      What about Freedom Fries, are they off the menu now?
      I am going to pass on that Canadian option that’s for sure!


  7. Damned foreigners! There’s nowhere better to eat chips than within sight of the North Sea. With enough salt, but not too much, and enough vinegar not to make them go prematurely cold.


  8. Ah salt n vinegar on plain old fashioned chips wrapped in newspaper from the “old and dying breed” of Fish Shop whip up Heaven for me – still 😀


  9. Hope your camera did not get too greasy from your fingers when taking that last picture. Or did you use the little plastic fork? They don’t have little plastic forks like that in Grimsby. Do they come with instructions?


  10. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Cheese. Lots of cheese!


  11. The ‘things’ in the packet are indeed chips and the lovely crisp long fellows are fries or French fries.
    Have your heard of Poutine? Take a gander. Ugh. 😦


  12. Funny how individual tastes are…being from California but now living in Spain, I find the patatas bravas entirely too bland, not at all spicy. I am on a constant quest to find spicy food here, and havetaken to carrying crushed red pepper or habanero sauce in my purse.


  13. I am the weird person who eats them with nothing added.


    • That is a bit odd but I suppose it depends what you fry them in. A nice peppery olive oil would be good but definitely not vegetable oil!
      McDonalds French Fries are coated in sugar so they perhaps don’t really need anything else?


  14. Some of us Welsh like Mint Sauce on our chips, Andrew. After a roast lamb Sunday lunch, left over lamb served with chips and mint sauce is a real treat for me. However, I do also like a plain old chip butty (without the mint sauce).

    I’m pretty sure that Walkers were thinking of bringing back Mint Sauce favoured crisps, but I’ve yet to see them.


  15. Here in the US you can also get fries covered with beef chili and cheese – chili cheese fries. There’s also a variation of putine that substitutes tomato sauce for brown gravy.

    I prefer lots of malt vinegar with ketchup on the side!


    • Beef chilli and cheese is not one for the purists I guess. I am not trying Poutine even with the ketchup variation but I do like your vinegar preference!


      • … and the best french fries in the U.S can be found at Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage in Cambridge, Massachusetts!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sadly, I am unlikely to ever try them!


      • Enter ‘Mr Bartley’s Burgers’ into YouTube to check the place out – and to hear some real Boston accents!


      • Looks good but pricey – FRENCH FRIES with ghost pepper jack cheese – $6.75!
        The other thing that I would say is that I don’t like stacked burgers, I much prefer to eat them in the bun without having to deconstruct it!
        Anyway, thanks for the contribution, I appreciate it!


      • I think they were just showing an extreme example of what they have – very few people order that huge burger – most people order a single burger with a side of fries – even so, after eating there for lunch I can skip dinner!

        It is a bit pricey – a chocolate frappe can cost $7 – but it’s worth it. ‘Frappe’ is a very regional Boston area word for a drink made primarily with ice cream, milk, and chocolate


      • I understand that. We have places that serve those huge stacked burgers but I wouldn’t order them. I just like a regular burger and a side of fries!
        I always thought that ‘Frappe’ came from Greece? Invented in 1957 at the International Trade Fair in Thessaloniki


      • The Greek frappe is a drink that includes iced coffee. I’m not sure why we use the same word, but ordering a frappe in New England will get you the ice cream drink. But then in other parts of the US a frappe is a drink that does not include ice cream, just milk and a flavored syrup.


      • Thanks for the information Peter!


  16. Chips should never be served with a sauce and the salt should always be sea salt with a tangy taste. Vinegar sparingly (save it for the portion of fried cod on the side), but enjoy the crispy, big, fat (never skinny), soft- middled, chips cooked in beef dripping if possible. Not good for your heart but you’ll die with a smile on your face.


    • The chips you describe sound heavenly. Interestingly I live in Grimsby in UK and people here will never eat cod, only the haddock which they consider superior. I like them both, especially with vinegar and squeezed lemon!


  17. OK, I’m a Yank and you’ve dismissed us out of hand, but McDonald’s has my favorite french fry. I do not allow any nasty sauces to get anywhere near my fries unless it is the sauce served by Raising Cane’s. The sauce is for their fried chicken strips, but I use it for my fries – which are by the way crinkle cut – a variety you did not mention. Another favorite is the Chikfila waffle fries – same amount of potato more crispy bits. As much as I love all these fries, I only let myself have them about once a month, because I do try to maintain a certain amount of health. If I do make them at home ( once a year event), all I put on them is salt, pepper and cinnamon. So that’s it from this side of the pond.


    • I was only joking of course!
      I agree about McDonalds French Fries, I think they are the best but we don’t get the crinkle cut option over here.
      What interests me is how do you make them when you fry them at home? What is the secret to the perfect fry?
      When I was a boy we had home made chips at least once a week, sometimes twice and a special Saturday treat with a chippy tea from the neighbourhood shop wrapped in newspaper. Now, like you, we only go to the trouble once or twice a year.


      • French fry tricks my mother taught me. Peel potatoes and cut into slices – about the size of my finger – then soak them in water for awhile. Drain well. Put enough oil in the pan to cover the fries and get it very hot. Don’t put too many fries in the pan at a time. Be sure there is plenty of room so that each side of the fry can cook. Be patient and let them brown. then drain on a paper towel to get rid of the excess grease. Season to taste and eat HOT.


      • If it is your index finger then that is a chip not a fry! What sort of oil? Do you cook them once or twice?


    • Aside from French Fries, you have raised another issue for me here. When I was a boy we used to talk about Yanks but it is a term that is rarely used now, it seems to have just slipped out of our vocabulary. I think now we simply refer to citizens of the USA as Americans and I am wondering now when that change occurred. Do you still call us Limeys?


  18. It is funny that we speak the same language (UK and USA) but can’t seem to communicate when it comes to food. Will your next post be about bacon?


  19. You sound like my husband – only salt and vinegar for him too!! We are an ill matched pair, I hate vinegar but love each and every one of the other options on my chips you mention above, just not together of course. Well except for mayo and ketchup, loving that!!


  20. Great post!
    I never cared for ketchup, so, even at the risk of being called “Unamerican”, I never put it on my fries. I would use barbecue sauce if it was available, or I would just use salt. For a short time, I had a great love for chili cheese fries, but then I saw my backside in the mirror, and that was over.
    Now that I’ve been to Australia and New Zealand, salt and vinegar are the only way to go.


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  22. I see Grimsby scores highest!😀 They do look good but are they cooked in lard? Not great for a vegetarian. I do like a good mayonnaise with chips – scrummy. Or perhaps topped with cayenne pepper. Equally tasty. Fun post, Andrew.


  23. Definitely fried in dripping for taste, thick cut and then liberally sprinkled with sea-salt or a crunchy Malvern. I keep the vinegar for the fish – if served with the chips. Although I live on the Isle of Wight, we do not have many good fish and chip shops, although we haveplenty of mediocre ones, the best one being in BRADING, a small village between Sandown and Ryde. In Ventnor, a crab shack serves crab & chips which may sound horrid but believe me is delicious, the crab being moist and used like a dip: in a trendy London restaurant this would be gourmet food and priced accordingly.


    • You can find similar places all along the North Norfolk coast.
      I have always been a vinegar fan. When I was a boy my dad used to tell me off for using so much. He would wait until I had finished and then pour the spare liquid from my plate to his own. He was always finding ways to save money!
      Thanks for the contribution!


  24. Croats have taken over the French version even call then “pomfrit” 🙂 as far as Australians are concerned here it is from the horse’s mouth- given I’m writing this from the heart of Sydney (live 8 km north of Harbour Bridge) – crisps is heard so rarely although some venture there – chips is the word here mostly 😀 Tomato sauce, vinegar, chicken salt, mayo….yum yum


  25. Mayonnaise is an evil that must be destroyed. Ditto ketchup. And mayo on fries — ewww!

    The perfect fries/chips, for me, means a product that needs nothing more than a tiny bit of salt. The best ones I’ve ever had were in Australia – they were consistently crispy on the outside, smooth on the outside, and tasted of potato instead of oil or seasoning.


  26. I have to disagree with you on Belgian frites with mayonnaise – they’re the best!


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  29. I’ve seen this before . . . huh . . .


    • Yes, probably. Links to old posts can keep them active for a while longer. How do you maintain interest in your back-catalogue?


      • Well, I’m interested. I’m always going back reading stuff . . . but, I’m the only one (or durn near).

        I occasionally link older posts, but my experience is that few people click links.

        So, really, the answer is: I have lots of undiscovered gems (and some coal) that will likely never see the light of day. In fairness to people, there’s a staggering amount of new content out there and it takes a lot to get interested in older stuff.

        I’m also probably weird in that if I subscribe to people’s blogs, I do make it a point to read what they write (some exceptions if the material doesn’t interest me, but most people have narrow interests, so I don’t run into that a whole lot). That’s one of the reasons I don’t subscribe to a lot of people otherwise my days would be spent just reading stuff and never producing anything or doing other stuff I like.


      • I restrict my follows to about 30 for exactly the same reason. I am missing a lot of good stuff but I haven’t got the time!


  30. Pingback: UK National Fish and Chips Day | Age of Innocence

  31. It’s Jackie’s 70th birthday today, and I’m not up to much, so thanks for the fish and chip day info 🙂


  32. More comments about what to put on chips than I’ve ever seen on other posts. Just shows how important it is that people know that salt and vinegar is the only thing.


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  34. I totally agree about the New World. I have a picture somewhere of me eating so called fish and chips at “”THE WORLD FAMOUS NATHANS’ at / on Coney Island. I think my expression in the picture tells the true story.

    Those Pommy chips look ready to die for.


    • I am biased but Pommie chips are easily the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I stuffed mysel silly on fish and chips in York Nov 2005, and the beer I drank was the best beer I’ve ever had, I think I knocked off 5 or 6 pints in a very short time, Was from a small brewery and only sold in the pub I found by accident. But the fish and chips, Unbeatable I could die happy noshing on that


      • Yorkshire chips are generally fried in beef dripping!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know if you follow philosophermouseofthehedge Andrew, She’s a lady from Texas, and a delightful blogger, She went to England, a long time ago, and fell in love with the English fish and chips and just about lived on them her entire stay, raves on about them, and assures me that there is nothing like it anywhere else on this earth.
        Obviously an American with taste; she’s very pro English, refers to us as “Salt of the earth” at times


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