Friday, October 19, 2012

Belgian Cuisine: French Fries at De Gouden Saté

"The inhabitants of Namur, Andenne, and Dinant, had the custom of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer like those here." 

In the XVIIth century, the French fries as we know them today, were invented by Belgian fishermen used to fry their food. When American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I, they tried the fries and they called them 'French Fries' because the Belgian army was speaking French at the time. Meanwhile in Dutch, it's called FRIETEN!

In Belgium, the place to buy some fries is called 'Frituur' (Dutch) or 'Friteries' (French). You get them with a large variety of sauces and eaten either on their own or with other snacks such as frikandelle or burgers. Traditionally, they are served in a 'Frietzak' (Dutch) or 'Cornet de frites' (French) which is a white cardboard cone, then wrapped in paper, with a good spoonful of sauce on the top. 

In Ghent, De Gouden Saté is the most popular place among the locals and the students to get their snacks. Open everyday for lunch (11am-2pm) and at night (5pm-7am), there are some folks queuing at any time! I guess it takes time to make good food. Usually, there is a 10-15mn waiting time.
"Ask anybody to bring you to Julien's and you'll get there real quick!"                           - Belgian student.
Julien & Peter are the owners and a third staff member allow them to open that long. They ask orders one-by-one in the queue, while strategically frying different stuff at the demand. Nothing is ready in advance like at McDonalds!
Me and Hugo Claus.

Among the wide variety of sausages and other strange meat, perhaps the most popular ones are the Bicky Burgers. Created in 1981, they are sold in every kinda snacks like De Gouden Saté. It's a fried burger (a mix between chicken, pork and horse meat) topped with three sauces (the yellow Bicky Dressing, the Red Bicky Ketchup and the brown Bicky Hot Sauce), crispy onions and pickles served in a sesame sprinkled bun. But don’t be fooled. It’s still a snack and not a Michelin star experience. 

Another dish is the Hugo Claus. Really popular among the locals, it's a big pack of fries, drawn in stew sauce with mayonnaise and satay seasoning, topped with dried onions and fried meet. 

It even has a Facebook page.

Once the order is ready, you gotta find a less frequented street and if possible, a rain shelter. The best option remains a nice bar with friends to help the digestion with a good local beer!


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