No.28: Friet & mayo (Dutch French Fries)

Call ‘em what you will – friet, friets, patat, Vlaamse Frieten – but one thing is sure, the Dutch can’t seem to get enough of ‘em!  In fact, they love ‘em so much they eat over 41 million kilos of these tasty guys per year! Now folks, I know it’s Friday and I don’t want your brains to explode, so I’ll kindly do the math for you; that’s 2.5 kilos (5.5 lbs) of fries per Dutchie per year! Oh my!

In English we refer to them as French Fries, but the French can’t take claim for their invention. Sadly, neither can the Dutch. These bad boys were born to the Dutchie’s favourite neighbour: Belgium and were coined “french fries” by confused worldly American WW1 soldiers after the language spoken – and not the country.

Fries were common place in Belgium as early as 1680 but didn’t make waves in the lowlands until the ealry 1900s. In 1912, the presence of patat-friet houses in Rotterdam’s red light district was reported (oh, how some things never change…;)

So what makes Dutch fries so different from any other country’s variation? The toppings my friend, the toppings! Did you not see the now infamous scene in Pulp Fiction?!

VINCENT:  But you know what they put on french fries in Holland instead of ketchup?
JULES: What?
VINCENT: Mayonnaise.
JULES: Goddamn!
VINCENT: I seen ‘em do it. And I don’t mean a little bit on the side of the plate, they fuckin’ drown ‘em in it.

Yes, mayo is a fries’ best friend in the lowlands. The two share a beautiful romance and can be found together all over town. Sometimes mayo’s cheaper dubious cousin, frietsauce,  makes an (unwanted) appearance with its unknown ingredients, but for the most part friets + mayo live happily every after.

Of course if you wanna blend in with the locals you can impress your friends with your mad skills of the wide-array of uniquely Dutch toppings and sauces. Below is our handy cheat-sheet:

  • Friet met satésaus: fries with peanut sauce
  • Friet speciaal: fries with mayonnaise, (curry) ketchup and onions
  • Patatje Joppie: fries with the “top-secret” Joppiesaus (actually just a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup and spices)
  • Patatje oorlog: this one varies slightly by region but is most often served as fries with peanut sauce, mayonnaise and raw chopped onions. Oorlog the Dutch word for war, is a reference to the sloppy mess this dish entails
  • Kapsalon: fries with kebab or shawarma  and sometimes cheese

Of course all of the above are a long way from my dear old Poutine, but I have been know to enjoy the occasional friet speciaal after a long night out…

Leave a Reply

  1. Oh god! I want some now! (Germans put mayo on fires too. Preferably with ketchup as well: Pommes rot-weis.Yum!)

    • kapsalon is invented in my town Rotterdam,there was a small kebab reataurant next to a hairdresssaloon(kapsalon means hairdresssaloon!),and the hairdressers were ordering lunch in the next door restaurant,their orders for kebab or the turkish dish with meat and bread,they change up by ordering with fries instead of bread..sooo..the kebabseller invented a dish with first kebab on the bottom,covered with salads,covered with fries and topped it with grilled cheese..with or without mayonaise sausces…the kebabseller had to find name for the now so populair dish and called it kapsalon,because of the hairdresspeople next door…nowerdays all the big city’s downhere sell kapsalon and its a very populair dish…last time i even saw a fish-store sell it with instead of meat fried fish(more like fish ‘n chips together!!).

  2. You forgot to mention ‘patatje met’ or ‘serving of fries with’ when translated meaning a portion of fries for one person (patatje) with mayonnaise (met mayonaise) in which, efficient as we are, leave out the mayonnaise part because, let’s face it what else could you possibly want on your fries?

  3. It should be noted here that the Dutch variant of mayo is quite different than the American one. it’s more yellow.

  4. Well to tell you the truth the mayonaise you get with your patat at snackbars or stands isn’t the heavy mayonaise you buy in glass jars. It’s somewhere between that mayo and regular saladsauce. It’s more mayosauce then exactly mayonaise. That doesn’t mean that some Dutchies won’t prefer the heavy mayo over the lighter versions. And ofcourse don’t forget the Zaanse Mayo. Or ‘zalf’.

    • Indeed, mayonaise is not always mayonaise, but a much less tasty sugared fluff.

      Funny enough you always find the perfect snack at almost any Vlaamse friet outlet.

    • I’m sorry to say Gido, most snackbars and stands use the exact same mayonaise as most people use at home. The “Remia” brand is prevalent in both cases and is exactly the same wholesale as it is retail.

    • Gido is right. What we serve as mayonnaise is sold in the supermarket as “Frietsaus” which is lighter the real mayonnaise.

  5. Your fries won’t be complete without a “frikandel speciaal”, I know some Dutch living in the states who would kill for that.

    • frikandels freak me out! just doesn’t look appetizing at all. ehh what do I know…I must be the only American that has not eaten a Hot Dog, but I sure love me some Spam

    • oh frikandelen! As a starving american in Nederland for a few years, this was a super special treat, and I still crave them after nearly 15 years!!! You know what else I miss: croquettes with bami in them, which you purchase from a vending machine!!! Seriously, who else buys hot foods from a vending machine?? Love the Dutch!

      • I miss the bami ballen, the nasischijven and the loempia’s out of the wall more than anything.

  6. Dutch mayonaise is different from French or some German brands, because they use (more) vinegar whereas ‘we’ use oil. It makes the mayonaise thicker and less fresh/sour (but the downside is the calories intake). This is why you see Dutch families taking their own jars of mayonaise with them on holidays.

  7. I do believe that the word ‘patat’ is mostly used in the west of the country, the Hollands mostly, but correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Being a boy from the east of the low countries, I can safely say that ‘patat’ is used as the prime indicator of this fried potato dish.

      • In the south-east (Eindhoven area) ordering a Patat will get you fries, or a smart-ass asking you if you’re sure you want potatoes. In belgium you simple get potatoes if you order “patatten” in a restaurant.

    • I really like the friets in The Netherlands! (I was mostly in Groningen, and I thought they called them frites..) The currysaus was a disappointment for me, though – it tasted like not-so-terrible barbecue sauce to me!!! D:

      I may get chastised for this, but honestly, the garlic sauce from the Döner-Kebab places can totally go with frites!

  8. Just incase you want to order a “patatje oorlog” beware: some parts of the country serve them as mentioned here: peanut sauce+mayo+chopped onions, but some (closer to Rotterdam for example) leave out the onions…much better in my opinion ;), another added bonus: less smelly!

    • That is what we call a patatje flip in my hometown. Oorlog has to have onions and sometimes ketchup/curry too!

    • I think that’s mor Belgium than Dutch. You can get it in Holland, but not as often as in Belgium.

  9. Patatje oorlog, in the south of the Netherlands we eat it with Mayonaise, Ketchup, chopped raw uniouns and sate sauce, yum yum, i miss it!

  10. Actually, Dutch people usually refer to the thin fries (like the ones at MacDonalds) as French Fries, and the thick ones as Vlaamse frieten. But in most places in the Netherlands you’ll get something in between.

    • These thin excuse for a frie are the reason I won’t ever order fries at Mac Donald in the first place! Vlaamse Frieten are the best.

      • Love those Vlaamse fries but their mayo is not nearly as good as ours.

    • I agree. French fries are the thin ones like at MacDonalds, Flemish fries are the thick ones.

      • and very tasty they are too, just as I’d prefer English fat chippy chips to fries, I do like the Flemish variety. Mind you, I’ve explored more of Belgium than NL

  11. no, fries came to exist when Belgium was part of “the United Netherlands”. Nowadays known as the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria or “the Benelux”.

    • The benelux is BElgium NEtherlands and LUxemburg…so no Austria.

      Would kill for a papatje pinda right about now!!!

  12. “Friet speciaal: fries with mayonnaise, (curry) ketchup and onions” I haven’t seen a friet speciaal with ketchup in a long time, but I guess people still order this? I think it has become more common to make friet speciaal with curry ketchup. BUT there is a major difference between the curry ketchup used in the north of the Netherlands (above the rivers) and the south of the Netherlands (underneath the rivers), or at least Limburg and Noord-Brabant. In the south they use Hela, which is a German brand with much spices and in the north they use any Dutch brand, such as Remia or Calve, which in my taste is more sour (but my boyfriend calls it more sweet…).

    • I live in the west of Holland, but also prefer the Hela-brand. It’s a smoother, softer and a less sour taste which I always expirience with other brands…Hela is the best curry sauce for patat in my opinion!

  13. That last line of your Pulp Fiction quote is quiiite wrong. Watch the last seconds of that video you tagged along a few more times!

    Vincent: I’ve seen ‘em do it, man. They fuckin’ drown ‘em in that shit!
    Jules: Uhhh!

  14. As a dutch woman living in America, I always request a side of mayonaise with my fries at restaurants. They either look at me like Im crazy or ask if Im from Holland. The mayonaise is not like what we get in Holland but sometimes it gets pretty close.

    I always have an imported stash of mayonaise and curry in my pantry. It is the fee my family and fries are required to pay when they come to visit from the Netherlands. That and douwe egberts coffee, honing wybertjes, gehakt en kip kruiden and anything salmiak…

    … Excuse me while I go rade my stash. Youve made me homesick!

    ;)

      • Do they have Dutch stores in the USA? We have lots in Canada and I only go once in a while to stock up on basics..if one was just around the corner I would be broke!

  15. We here in the south say Friet. The best snackbar serves home-made friet; not the industrial variety. And Dutch mayo is okay (sweeter than other European mayos) but the Belgium mayo is the best. You can actually buy belgium mayo in glass jars = vlaamse (Flemish) mayo.
    And patatje oorlog = friet + mayo + peanut sauce. Nothing else. And yes it certainly doesnt look pretty.
    Getting hungry here; not made at home but the snackbar actually makes the friet

  16. My boyfriend from the USA still thinks it is strange if I, Dutchie, talk about fries as a dinner. For my boyfriend fries are not a meal, but a sidedish. But I can eat just one frietje speciaal and that would be my dinner. If I am hungry, I might take a snack to go with it. A snack would be a piece of meat that is not really recogniseable as meat, such as a frikandel, kroket, bamihap, mexicano etc. My boyfriend didn’t like these deep fried snacks. That is why he ordered hamburgers instead. But he would turn out to be pretty disappointed, because in a Dutch snackbar his hamburger was never grilled, but deep fried!

  17. I keep wondering why the Dutch like mayo so much. I thought us the Russians were the champions at that, but alas! they beat us.

    • Yes, your Russians are the champions on that. Seeing some Russian friends use mayo, we come not near to that :):)

  18. I haven’t been back to Nederland/België since the late 1960s. Are Friets still served in a cone made from newspaper or other paper? I recently bought Frietssaus from a Dutch deli here in Oregon and prefer it to American mayonnaise. But Dutch mayonaise is great—just like homemade mayonnaise with a little mustard and other spices

  19. I think it is not only about the mayo which makes the patatjes in Holland so good… the friets are also cooked in such a way… Crunchy outside and soft inside, delicious! And yes, the mayonaise is not you regular mayo either, it is not as citrusy and a bit thicket than regular mayo… I love the patatjes! I was just there again and cannot go without having them at least once!

  20. You forgot to mention that every single Dutchie knows to order a “Patat Met” (“Fries With”) when they want fries with mayonais…

    I once made the mistake of ordering “Patat met” in Belgium…. They wouldnt stop laughing at me!

  21. I still eat my fries with mayo after 21 years in the US. Oh, and “friet met satesaus” was called “patatje pinda” in the western part of the country where I lived (Leiden). And “patatje oorlog” was fries with (curry)ketchup – which looked more like bbq sauce – satay sauce, mayo, and raw onions….

  22. The first time I went to netherlands, was christmas 2011, now Im back here again, and been in netherlands for 3 months, might stay here (got a girlfriend) but back to my point, Before I visited Netherlands the first time, your blog made me love the netherlands more, and some of their weirdness.

  23. Patatje stoof!!! Fries with stewed beef and gravy, also known as ” hachee”. The best snackbars make the “stoof” themselves.
    And don’t forget the Belgian chips, that are usually a bit coarser, a bit bigger, with sometimes some skin still on it, and fried darker than your standard fries. Combined with Belgian mayonaise, which is a bit more tart and less sweet than standard mayo…….NOMNOMNOM!
    And I’m missing ” raspatat”, a variety made of potato-powder mixed with water. This makes kind of a mash that is extruded into the typical fries-shape and deepfried. Not bad, but a bit different in taste.
    @Larry Day: some places do, but most serve the fries in an open plastic container, like this: [img]http://www.cvdenatneuzen.nl/demi/Patat-Meeneem-02.jpg[/img]

  24. hmmm, I just had my mum sent over some Zaanse Mayonaise AND Hela Curry so I can make my own frietje speciaal right here in Sydney :-)

  25. This leaves me craving for some patatje oorlog and a frikandel speciaal met uitjes, please!! Whoever dares to open the first Dutch snackbar in London is my hero. And is likely to do some very good business.

    • Hi Femke,

      Don’t crave any longer. I wouldn’t know of a Dutch snackbar in London, but a viable alternative might be a pub called De Hems (off Shaftesbury Avenue). They serve stuff like patatje oorlog, frikandel, bitterballen and more all year round – and things like boerenkool-met-worst, zuurkool, stamppot during the cold season (http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/de-hems-dutch-bar-london). But be prepared for prices a little more peppered than you’d find in yer average chippie!

      The Hems used to have a mixture of Dutch and British staff, back when I arrived in 1998. They also used to have live music, from time to time (a massively fat – and massively awful – drummer invariably presiding over the trad jazz featured). It has been rather a while that I’ve been in De Hems, though, so I’m not sure this is still the case. But I’m pretty much certain about those dishes aforementioned!

      If your craving extends to wagon wheel pannekoeken (pancakes), head to Holborn for Old Dutch. Every Monday, most of their menu will be available for just £5! And for such pittance, you’ll get a really huge plate of yumminess!

      Pete

  26. Being a Dutchie living in Italy, one of the things I have to eat within three days after my arrival in Holland is a Frietje Speciaal! After my stay, I will always, just always bring some mayonnaise and curry in my suitcase. Risky, I have ruined some clothes when the jar broke during traveling….

  27. In Brabant, Zeeland, and Limburg, they probably use “friet” and “frietten” as they are closer to the Belgian border, Belgian culture is much more french influenced then dutch, even in north western reaches of Flanders

    • Those borders are artificial. Limburg, Brabant and Flanders are the historical regions. Parts of it are now in the Netherlands, Belgium and Flanders even has a part in France.

      • I always thought that the real name is Patat Friet, Which should mean “Fried Patato”. I am not sure if the more French influence in Belgium makes the difference as “Patat” has a Roman language origin as well.

  28. So funny!

    I Walked into à friet place and in english i asked for french fries. The guy, 100% serious answers “we dont have french fries” took me à minute to gather myself since all i could see was french fries! I realize he is being “funny” so i answer to him “What à pity, i was in the mood for french fries” and left. Dumb ASS remark, i never went back..

    • So what is it? Was that guy being funny or was he 100% serious? You do realize that french fries means something different in this country?

      • Maybe he if you asked for a portie friet or patat, he would understand you. You are after all in a DUTCH speaking country and not an ENGLISH speaking country.

    • Could it have been he just did not understand you? In general in Holland French Fries are only named that way at places like McDonalds. Friet is the normal word and if I would ask for them in English the word Chips enters my mind first. So in stead of automaticly blaming the other one you could have tried to find out if it wasn’t just miscommunication. Now you might have missed some great Frieten!

  29. In the north Patatje Oorlog is just Peanut sauce and Mayonaise.. without unions, if you want unions with it you need to specify.

  30. In the south of Holland (Limburg) they call it ‘friet’ instead of ‘patat’. Another difference is that they call a snackbar a ‘friture’ (just like the belgians) which actually means a frying pan. Most of the ‘fritures’ in Limburg also serve a ‘frietje zuurvlees’ which has a strong resemblance of boiled beef, but has a more sweet-and-sour like sauce/gravy. Very very tasty!

  31. I never thought mayo and fries would be a good combination till I tried Friet speciaal a few months back when I was in Breda… absolutely divine!

  32. Well… I’m missing the “raspatat” and regular patat variations as “patatje halfom”, “patatje chillimayo”, “patatje flip” :-D

  33. They are called French fries because of the same reason French onion soup is called French.. because of the culinary technique of cutting the food, the “french cut”. Nothing about WWI soldiers that did not know where they were ;)

    Don’t try to bring the Americans in the invention of fries ;)

      • Technically this is not true, as the American’s thought that they were in France and actually they were Belgium when they discovered the delight of the fries aka friets…. french fries :)

  34. does nobody now’s boerenfriet (farmer fries)
    witch is fries with skin containing fried mushrooms, fried onions and bacon.

  35. Seriously, 2.5? That’s not very much considering the average American eats 13!!! kilo’s (29 lbs) a year!

    • If we calculate further… That is 48 grams a week. Since one portion of fries on average weighs 164 grams, that is roughly one portion of fries every three weeks. Sounds pretty normal to me! Now, if you compare that to amount of cheese we eat! THAT is mind blowing (18 kilograms per year per person!)

  36. Dutch Mayo and Pindasaus are the entry fees to our US house for Dutch friends and family…. And when we go back to The Netherlands to visit there are two things I *must* eat during that time for sure: frietjes, frikandel speciaal en een bereklauw pinda as dinner, and a high quality portion of Kibbeling. Hmmmm, hungry now….

  37. I find it so funny that you are talking about “a wide array of toppings” for fries in the Netherlands. As Belgians who’ve been living in the Netherlands for 1,5 years, we’re always disappointed by the limited offer of sauces they offer for fries. Mayo, curry ketchup, ketchup, peanut and Joppie. Some will also have garlic sauce or stoofvleessaus. While in Belgium, we have those plus tartaar, cocktailsauce, béarnaise, anadalouse, americain, samurai, curry sauce (which is not the same as curry ketchup!), mammoetsaus, zigeunersaus, and many many more varieties.

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  39. By the way, most of the Brabanders (the dutch who live in the south of the Netherlands) also put Appelmoes (applesauce) on their fries. Every child eats it. Delicious :)

  40. Unfortunately, part of the explanation here is incorrect. Although it is amusing to attribute the name “French Fries” to worldly GIs of the Great War, in truth the name refers to the cut. When slicing vegetables into thin, even strips, this can be called “julienne” or “french” as a verb. Therefore, potatoes that are first frenched, then fried result in the tasty snack we all enjoy today. The cut may have been developed in France, but immersing the potatoes in boiling ossewit (solid, white bovine fat) twice, salting, and serving with some form of mayonnaise was most definitely developed in the region between modern France and the Netherlands. This happened before the Treaty of London, in which the Kingdom of Belgium was established, meaning that although the Belgians have a regional and cultural claim to the food, the actual nationality of its origins are more ambiguous.

  41. Pingback: No.28: Friet & mayo (Dutch French Fries) | Twan van Elk

  42. The Brits call it “egg and chips” – same basic principle, as proper mayo is mostly egg.

    You can’t keep a great flavour combination down!

  43. Hi , I have just been doing a bit of blog surfing , came across yours off another one ,, oh my word , the Frites with mayo , over there , the best in the world ,, the mayo is so different ,, my husband and I used to live in Germany but go to NL and Belgium ,, we love them :-)

  44. Greetings all!

    First of all, this is a real gem: a host of Dutch peculiarities astutely observed – if not always well-understood. But that’s where the comments come in…

    I’m Dutch, but have been living in London for the past 14 years. I still visit the country of my birth two or three times a year, but feel increasingly a tourist there .Still, this blog had me hooked in no time.

    I came across it purely accidentally – and just spent a thoroughly enjoyable Saturday afternoon with it. I was repeatedly in stitches, too: sooooooo recognisable!

    I’d also like to take this opportunity for a message to Femke, who left a post back in September 2012. If she’s still living in London and her craving for patatje oorlog hasn’t yet diminished, she might be interested in revisiting this friet & mayo section and scrolling down to my comment.

    Smakelijk!

    Pete

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  46. I may be the only person in the United States using a Remia Fritessaus cup as an office supplies holder at work, but that doesn’t mean I’ll eat the stuff. I only take my “frieten” two ways: met mosterd, or met niets. Just can’t find a taste for ANY mayonnaisy condiment, no matter how “zacht en romig” it is.

  47. Wow, has no one yet mentioned the ‘patatje zonder met’? I thought that was a fairly widespread story, when someone wanted to ensure they got their chips without mayonnaise, so they ordered it ‘without with’. You know, because a ‘patatje met’ has mayonnaise…

  48. As Dutchman who has just been to Parry Sound (Ontario), Canada, I can say that Poutine is not to be compared to a Patatje Mayo. The latter is delicious, the former suspicious.

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  51. Oh hey please don’t forgot they where from a bad harvest from the South (the Netherlands) cause they couldn’t catch any fish. They decided to make the patatoes in litle small fishes. That is whe they came from. It is because the USA soldiers didn’t understand a shit cause they where talking in French the people who where eating them. So they called them French Fries. DONE here you go, we can claim them here they came from. From the fishers city Vlissingen.

  52. Oh and one more comment about your not doing your history at all!:

    Fries were common place in Belgium as early as 1680 but didn’t make waves in the lowlands until the ealry 1900s. In 1912, the presence of patat-friet houses in Rotterdam’s red light district was reported (oh, how some things never change…;)

    The Belgian Revolution was in 25 August 1830 – 14 July 1831

    So how if they invented at that time, it wasn’t in the Netherlands(Or your cald Low Lands what is: BENELUX the Low Lands Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg. Serious stop accusing the dutch so much how horrible sauces we have and why we eat mayonaise. Tell me where you from and I can also make fun of your culture what you eat and what are your habbits. Please.

  53. Oh lord I just found this blog and all of it is hilarious, but this one rings the truest. My (Dutch) boyfriend could probably put away 2.5 kilos of fries & mayo in one sitting!

  54. I thought it might be worth sharing the Dutch expression “uit de muur eten” (eating from the wall), which means eating anything from the vending machines (that are in a “vending wall” in the center of Dutch cities). They are accessable at all times, because they aren’t inside a bar or café. You just insert coins in the wall while standing outside and then you can open the box in which your hamburger, kroket, bamibal or frikandel is waiting. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Febo.jpg

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