French fries in Europe will be up to an inch shorter for a really sad reason
Whatever your fast food poison, whether you like burgers, pizza or fried chicken, we can all agree that when it comes to side dishes, one stands well above the rest. Yeah, mozzarella sticks are good, garlic bread can work depending on the meal, but come on, guys. French fries are where it's at.
Potatoes are great in many guises, but none more so that the humble french fry, and if you happen to be in Europe any time soon, I recommend you check them out. In the Netherlands, for example, they're enjoyed with mayonnaise rather than ketchup (yup, just like John Travolta mentions in the beginning of Pulp Fiction), and they're unlike anything you've had before.
But while you're munching down on your frites met mayo (the only Dutch phrase you're ever going to need to learn), you may notice something weirdly different about your European french fries. Yes, they're delicious; but something's... not quite right. Then, it hits you: your french fries from Europe are delicious, but they're also smaller. Shorter by around an inch. What gives?
Although your mind might go there, short french fries are not Europe's way of screwing you out of delicious potato. Rather, they're a reflection of a very sad reality going on in Europe right about now. It's a shortage, sure, but there's nothing wrong with the crop yield of Europe's potato farmers, per se.
As you may or may not know, french fries are actually not from France at all; rather, Belgium boasts the enviable title of being the home of french fries, but out in Belgium, potato farmers are having a bit of an issue. This summer was unusually hot and dry, and while it was awesome for summer days out and for your Instagram feed, it wasn't great for your potato addiction.
"Because the potatoes are smaller at the moment, we will all be eating smaller chips," said Pierre Lebrun of the Walloon Potato Growers' Association, saying that smaller spuds is a problem that will spread throughout Western Europe, which includes France and the United Kingdom. Plus, with 5,000 friteries in Belgium alone, it's an effect that's sure to have massive effects on the Belgian food scene.
“Frites are essential. It is vital," Bernard Lefevre, president of Belgium’s chip stand owners association, said to Politico. "It is part of our culture. It’s more than a product – it’s a symbol of Belgium.”
Even worse: the problem doesn't look to have an end in sight. With climate change to blame for this strangely warm summer, and plenty more of the same expected, it might be a while before we see french fries back to their proper size.
It's a sad time, folks, but while we may not be getting french fries as long as we're used to for a long time, let's hope they continue to be plentiful in their shorter size, and that they continue to be delicious. What will we have with our burgers instead?