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article imageBelgium seeks to have potato fries declared cultural heritage

By Andrew Ellis     Dec 6, 2014 in Odd News
Who would have thought that potato fries could unite an entire country? Well, that seems to be the case in Belgium where there is currently a movement to have Belgian potato fries officially recognized as cultural heritage.
The fries are served in a paper cone from a "fritkot," which is the equivalent of a shack or trailer — or a food truck — in the U.S., according to Yahoo News.
Across Belgium, there are at least 5,000 fritkots which is more per capita than there are MacDonald's fast food restaurants in the entire United States of America.
The movement for the fries to be declared official cultural heritage was started by UNAFRI, also known as the national association of fritkot owners, according to Dunya News. They claim that their establishments are represent Belgium very well as they "combine the country's embrace of chaos with a dislike of corporate uniformity."
"A cone of potato chips is Belgium in miniature. What s astounding is that this way of thinking is the same, notwithstanding the different communities and regions," added spokesman Bernard Lefevre.
Tourists can even be seen lineup with locals in Brussels to a cone of fries from well-known fritkots such as Frit Flagey and Maison Antoine, according to the Yahoo News article.
"Before I came here, one of the only things I knew about Belgium was that they liked their fries, so I think they are pretty much there already," said Rachael Webb, a tourist from Ottowa, Canada.
In order to be recognized by UNESCO — the UN's cultural arm — it has to be endorsed by a Belgian minister of culture. The country has three of them.
The government of the Dutch speaking region of Flanders has already recognized the fries as a essential part of the country's national culture. The Yahoo News article reports that the French and German speaking communities of the country will debate the issue next year.
As of right now, UNESCO has a list of precisely 314 items of "intangible cultural heritage" that they say is worthy enough to be preserved. Items on the list include Turkish coffee and the polyphonic singing of Aka pygmies of the Central African Republic.
Potatoes reached Belgium in the 16th century, but it wasn't until the 19th century that they cut up into fries and sold as a meal, according to Dunya News.
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