Frites with a tale to tell
Frites are the pride of our nation. And our frites vendors? They’re our local heroes! Discover some very special Flemish frites stands here.
Home frites home
For many people, the taste of that first golden baton from the deep-fryer is just like coming home. Friendly frites vendors and spectacular frites combinations undoubtedly have something to do with this. In Flanders, frying frites is not just a job, it’s a fine art! Are you also partial to some crispy golden goodness?
A firm favourite with everyone: De Gouden Saté in Ghent
Students, night owls and passers-by … anyone needing a bit of a pick-me-up in Ghent’snight-life hub De Overpoort can be seen hurrying along to De Gouden Saté. This might be a tiny kiosk, but the queues don’t lie: the frites here are superb! Julien, its founder, built this small frites kiosk into what it is today, with his hearty laugh and famous specials. Order a Hugo Claus: a glorious tray of frites served with satay spices, stew sauce, mayonnaise, a Viandel (crispy frikandel) and dried onions. It’s simply mouthwatering! When Julien passed away in 2013, the whole of Ghent mourned the loss of the King of Frites. But luckily, his son-in-law Peter and employee Stefaan took over the baton, providing just as warm a welcome as before.
Frites with a history
One of the oldest frites stands in Flanders adorns Groenplaats square in Antwerp. And yet this isn’t always where Frituur Max stood. In 1842, its proprietor Max was still selling his frites next to the statue of Rubens on Burchtplein square. The Burchtplein disappeared, however, when work was carried out to straighten the River Scheldt. Fortunately, the statue of Rubens and Frituur Max were both given a new home on Groenplaats square. Although the beautiful kiosk could not be rebuilt in its entirety, the ground floor of the new establishment draws you in with the original décor from 1842. You can find out all about Flemish frites stands in the Frietkotmuseum, one floor higher, and you can even take your frites upstairs with you.
A giant appetite
For those with huge appetites, the best place to stop is in Balen, a municipality about an hour’s distance from Antwerp by train. There, in the Broodjeshoek snack bar, you can engage in battle with the Balense Reus (Balen Giant) or the Toren van Balen (Tower of Balen). The Reus is a hamburger bun with a 21 cm diameter filled with six hamburgers, fries and garnish. Fervent frites fans come from far and wide to see if they can be the quickest to eat this ‘gem’. And what is the record? A staggering 7 minutes and 10 seconds. Even the ‘world champion eater’ has paid a visit to Balen, when the American Joey Chestnut managed to work his way through two Balense reuzen in 2011. In addition to the Reus, this is also where you’ll find the Toren van Balen– a skewer with room for two Mexicanos, eight slices of bacon and six Bicky burgers. The tower measures 56 cm and weighs 3 kilograms – the equivalent of a newborn baby. But don’t worry, this is a challenge to do in pairs.
Frites stands are a common sight in Belgium, with around 5000 outlets spread throughout the country. You’ll find a frites vendor in every town and village, to the great satisfaction of the inhabitants. At times, you may even find them very close to one another. In the Market square in Bruges, you’ll find two small green frites stalls, just a few metres apart from each other. They may be almost identical, but every citizen of Bruges has their own firm favourite. And no matter how long the queue, he or she will always remain loyal to his or her frites stand. Want to know which frites stand you would choose? Why not put it to the test?
A portion of frites served with kimchi, curry mayo, sriracha, crunchy wonton, yoghurt or furikake? There’s only one Flemish frites outlet where you’ll find this. Antwerp’s Korte Gasthuisstraat is where Sergio Herman, a Michelin star chef from Zeelandic Flanders, opened Frites Atelier, a frites outlet that elevates the frying of frites into an art form. Here, the frites are made from only the very best potato varieties and served with some incredible sauces and side dishes. Or how about trying some frites with New York Pastrami? There is also plenty to see here: the interior was designed by the famous Dutch interior designer Piet Boon and the Flemish cartoonist Kamagurka put pen to paper for the serviettes.
Next stop? Frites heaven!
In Watermaal-Bosvoorde, a suburb of Brussels, frites are eaten at speed. After all, this is where you can order delicious frites in … a tram. For 40 years, the tram earned its spurs on the public transport network. And it is now spending its remaining years as a cosy frites outlet on Payfa-Fosseprez square. Don’t worry if you normally suffer from travel sickness – this tram remains rooted to the spot! At the point where line 94 used to end, the frites are served just as they should be. Bintje potatoes are peeled by hand, freshly cut and then fried twice in ox fat: the recipe of success for a tray of crispy potato batons. The quickest way to get to Watermaal-Bosvoorde from Brussels is also by tram or by bus.
Story created on January 22, 2018