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Home Columns Humor Adventures in Utrecht #4: Piss fries

Adventures in Utrecht #4: Piss fries

Last updated 4 months ago by Michael Darmanin

The Dutch are strangely obsessed with what most visitors would call “French Fries” (frites) to the point of weirdness. These deep fried potato strips are consumed as a meal in itself in Holland. It’s not the unhealthy side dish most Americans are familiar with. Dutchies eat an average of 18 kilograms a year, not including the half kilo of smothering mayonnaise balanced on top. Yes, frites are ‘number one’ here in The Netherlands, so is that why they’re associated with pee? Let me explain.

Not long after moving to Utrecht, I came across a chain of restaurants that felt that associating their food with a urinating child is OK. Would you eat at a burger restaurant with a toilet logo? I think not.

Mannekepis Fresh Flemish Fries shop in Utrecht. Photo copyright and credit: Jeffrey Scott Pearson.

The ‘Mannekin Pis Child’ is a famous bronze statue in Belgium, where frites were actually invented. It’s also the logo of this well-known fast food chain. Understanding why fries are associated with urination was a mystery to me and I was desperate to understand. As an foreigner I was horrified to think that perhaps the many sauces they offered had something to do with it! Please no.

Photo by Frédéric Paulussen on Unsplash

My imagination boiled with ideas. The fried frites are so good that literally ANY fluid tastes amazing on them?! It doesn’t seem all that crazy when you see the variety of sauces available. One assumes that toddler urine is NOT a real choice thankfully – unless you have a creepy arrangement with some kid that is both illegal and undeniably wrong.

By far the most popular ‘frietsaus’ is a big glob of mayonnaise, originally made from spoiled milk, orphan tears and whale blubber. After that the choices just get more diverse. The list of actual frietsaus options include ‘patat met’ and ‘potatje joppie’ with curry, both popular in the north. Kapsalon, ketchup and melted cheese are also available, but mostly enjoyed by portly tourists and drunk football fans – not so much the theater crowd. Fussy club girls prefer less mess, often choosing with salt, pepper, paprika or rosemary to keep the fries from turning soggy and to keep stains off their knock-off designer clothes. 

In the south, I don’t know who won the potato war but the namesake ‘pataje oorlog’ sauce includes onions and peanut sate. Less popular in the Randstad (for good reason) are nut mustard, caviar and toothpaste – although a good brushing after a cone of ‘piss fries’ might be the best choice of all.

From left to right: Frites Mayo, Frites Speciaal and Frites Sate. Photo credit and copyright: Jeffrey Scott Pearson.
Jeffrey Scott Pearson
Jeffrey Scott Pearson
It seems no matter how I share my experiences - in a concert hall, an art gallery or a classroom – I am always a storyteller and my subject is truth. Throughout my life I have always felt my place in this world was to foster communication and love. I now seek to share my wisdom, my passion and my maturity to help others tell their important stories.


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