Belgium put up a fight after the EU considered its culinary tradition of double-fried fries unsafe.
Thick-cut and double-fried, frites are a Belgian delicacy. When it looked like a European Union proposal could threaten the way Belgians have been making their national dish for centuries, they put up a fight.
“It would be an enormous impoverishment of our fries culture,” Flemish Tourism Minister Ben Weyts wrote to the European Health Commissioner in a letter acquired by The Associated Press. “It would be a shame if the EU would ban this heavenly tradition.”
Belgian frites are traditionally made from potatoes called bintjes. They are cut and fried raw at 150°C to achieve a fluffy internal texture, then fried for a second time at 175°C. The final fry gives them a crispy, golden exterior — delicious, especially when dipped in mayonnaise as is the time-honoured tradition.
The EU proposed that all potatoes be blanched first before frying, an effort to cut down on acrylamide. The chemical forms naturally in some carbohydrate-rich plant-based foods when they’re cooked at high temperatures. “Since acrylamide is known to cause cancer in experimental animals, further research on the effects of exposure to acrylamide is needed,” Health Canada says on its website.
According to Reuters, Belgium’s Agriculture Minister Willy Borsus claims the EU will not be forcing a change in Belgium’s traditional preparation. “The Belgian fry is saved! Europe has listened to Belgium,” Borsus said in a tweet, which Prime Minister Charles Michel retweeted following an EU decision.