The French Fry Toppings of the World

In France, besides ketchup and mayonnaise, there is always the choice of mustard.

Well of course here in America we have other choices for what to eat on a FF - and for the most part no one cares what you put on your fries. But like HT posted - you have to ask for those condiments. I can think of very very few examples of when I ordered fries in which ketchup wasn’t either on the plate (in a little cup) or when the waitstaff didn’t bring ketchup or the waitstaff didn’t say “ketchup is on the table”. I can’t think of a single time when a waitstaff said, unsolicited, “here is mayo for your fries” or brought a bottle of vinegar out (in some rare occasions it will be on the table but more often if they have a “fish and chips” on the menu as well.

In France (though I don’t eat as many fries when I’m in France) I can’t remember being brought a condiment for fries without asking for one in particular. . . .

For those that live in other parts of the world - when you order something that has fries as a side - does a condiment come standard when that plate is delivered? Or do you have to ask for a condiment (regardless of what condiment you prefer)?

In the UK (and I think, Ireland), if you’re eating fish & chips (at a fish & chips shop), salt, pepper and malt vinegar will be on the table. If you’re having it as takeaway, you’ll be asked if you want salt & vinegar on them. No other condiments will be offered (and, in truth, I’ve no idea if your average takeaway chippy carries stock of other condiments, as I’ve never asked).

Both mayo & ketchup in Germany.

Interesting. Every Dutch restaurant I’ve been to has offered “garlic mayo”. I guess it’s something American restauranteurs invented but isn’t actually offered in the Netherlands. Weird.

If folks enjoy mayo on their fries (or ranch, or thousand island), nobody’s going to genuinely care, though as Thimes points out, it’s far from typical, so they most definitely won’t offer it unprompted. Though I do see malt vinegar on the tables of anyplace remotely British/pub/saloon themed, and personally love it on fries.

May only be SoCal but fries are often dipped in ranch dressing around here.

1 Like

Common in NorCal also. And I was shocked and then marginally pleased that pizza in Oregon comes with a side of ranch for dipping or ‘smearing.’ :slight_smile:

Yes. My son does the pizza/ranch thing sometimes. Makes my New York roots want to curl up and die.

LOL. We moved from SF to a small’ish town in OR. Some nabes took me out for pizza and I was like WTF! But it wasn’t bad…but that was probably because anything would have made the pizza better.

In Italy, nothing comes automatically as “a side”. If you want fries, you would need to order them separately off the menu (as a “contorni”). I have to admit that I have never ordered fries in a restaurant in Italy, but if I did, my jaw would drop if I was automatically served ketchup or mayo with it. Or anything, unless I was in some new kind of fast-foody restaurant in a tourist zone.

In beachy parts of Italy it is not uncommon to find a friggatoria, which sells an array of fried foods (small fish, strips of eggplant or artichoke, or potato or dough), that you eat with a long toothpick from a paper cone. My only experience of eating from a friggatoria is to have eaten panissa, which sort of resembles a potato “french fry” but is actually made of fried chickpea flour.

I ate my panissa plain, but it wouldn’t surprise me if at a friggatoria you could ask for and get lemon slices or vinegar or even a sauce of some sort depending on what you ordered. I don’t recall.

When one goes to bars in Italy for cocktails, one is often served an array of free nibbles, and little cups of dipping sauces often come with it, although what you are dipping into them is usually raw vegetable crudities, or tiny breadsticks, not anything hot. These sauces are sometimes mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based, and sometimes with tomato mixed in, or sometines with mustard. They go by the name of “salsa rosa” or “salsa ardente”. They generally are straight out of a plastic squirt bottle from the supermarket.

As I mentioned earlier, they only time in Italy I have seen fries automatically paired with anything is when they top a pizza, and I have only seen this in very touristy places (but mainly Italians order it). It might be that there is somewhere in Italy where Italians traditionally eat fries on top of pizza, but don’t know where that is.

This pizza with fries often comes with sliced hot dogs as a topping, and goes by the name of pizza americana, although it might be that the original demand for it in touristy places came from traveling Germans.

OMG, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over that pizza! I agree that I can’t picture any self-respecting Italian ordering it. LOL.

That looks positively revolting to this German right here.

Actually I see Italians eating it more than tourists, certainly not American tourists. It just occurred to me that it might have become a menu item first in the beach areas of Italy to where Germans flock as tourists – generally the Adriatic coast or the island of Ischia – but that is really just a guess. Some “inventions” in Italian restaurant/bar menus date from the time immediately following World War II when Americans occupied several major Italian cities, and GIs asked for certain foods. I’m just not aware of any place in Italy that on its own has a tradition of eating thin-strips of fried potatoes, so I’m guessing (just guessing) it was cooked up to please foreigners and then caught on with traveling Italians too (Italians are big-time tourists in their own country).

Also, I have seen pizza topped with fries in New York City. Let me see if I can find it as a menu item on Google.

[Edited to add: Never takes long

Edited again because my first try to post a link didn’t work:

Do Italians commonly eat fries/chips plain, and find it strange to offer sauces with them, as the rest of the world does?

Wow - I don’t know how to feel about that. But if I was traveling with my nieces and nephews (8 and under) I think they would think that was awesome - Pizza and hot dogs and fries, in Italy - all together. I can hear their squeals of delight.

On an adult note, I have seen and had flat breads with potatoes on them (usually potato, onion, a cheese) - so while seeing fries is unusual, potatoes aren’t that strange I guess.

Most Italians don’t commonly eat potatoes in any form except to make gnocchi – or maybe I should say they don’t eat them very regularly except in the northernmost parts of Italy, and especially as you get into the mountains near Austria. You find them a bit in southern Italy, but only seasonally in winter. The Neapolitians have a fantastic pasta & potato dish (with chunks of provolone cheese), but generally if you find potatoes being eaten, they would be sliced in disks and roasted with fish or mushrooms or black olives (again, a wintery dish).

Sometimes in the north you will find plain mashed potatoes offered as a bed for a long-cooked braised meat (or mushrooms) instead of polenta. Near Austria, the locals make a fabulous potatao pancake that is served with sliced cured meats. Potatoes also show up in the various forms of goulash popular in far northeastern Italy.

Like I said, the biggest use of potatoes in Italy is to make gnocchi, which exists almost everywhere in Italy (although less so in the far south and the islands).

But I can think of nowhere in Italy that “french fried” potatoes are anything more than a novelty item, something to be eaten on holiday. I can think of no standard accompaniment to them where they exist in fry-shops, but maybe I’ve just missed it.

I can’t resist adding a picture of the marvelous Neapolitan dish, pasta e patate e provola, which is often made with whatever odds and ends of pasta you have in the cupboard that isn’t enough to make one serving unless you throw them all together

and here is the beautiful potato tortel of the Trento region, classically served with grated cabbage, borlotti beans, cured meat and cheese

1 Like

Whereas, in the UK, our major pizza chain has an “American” (topped with mozzarella and pepperoni) and an “American Hot” (cheese, pepperoni and chilli pepper)

Important note for non-Italian speakers traveling through Italy that pepperoni in Italy are bell peppers (usually red or yellow), not a cured meat. The kind of small rounds of spicy cured meat that Americans (and I guess people in the UK) call “pepperoni” is something I rarely see where I travel in Italy, although it might be common in Calabria or Basiliciata.

It is not normal for Italians to top their hot pizza with meat of any kind, although I do see it on menus – maybe salume, maybe salsiccia (sausage), maybe wurstel (hot dogs). In summer months, cold flat bread pizza is sometimes topped with sliced proscuitto + arugula, maybe shavings of parmigiano reggiano. It’s more like a salad.