I first heard about it in whispers, years ago in class:
“What did you think of Bruges?” someone asked.
“Beautiful,” the interviewee responded. “We even had time to check out the…”
Her words are muffled, so as we all sometimes do for the sake of thorough investigation, I subtly leaned closer in my chair, keeping my eyes on my phone, which was displaying an article about the best and worst Gangnam Style parodies (it was 2012, y’all). (Watch the Dutch “Zwarte Pieten Style” version at your own risk).
I quickly found that I did not need to strain to hear her words when the interrogator abruptly scoffed, “a french fry museum?!”
“Yeah,” the interviewee shrinked slightly, laughing at it too, but in her reflection in my phone, I suspected that there was something hiding behind that hesitant laughter.
Years later, I finally had the chance to uncover what the hidden emotion was—and—I’m pleased to report, it was freshly fried delight.
Over our travels, Lisa and I have gone to a variety of museums. We’ve seen the magnificent (but tiring) Vatican Museums and the expansive Smithsonian Institution. But sometimes when we travel, we find ourselves looking for a new experience that isn’t lauded in centuries of history or pointed to us by laser pointers in our art history classes—something outside of the canon, if you will.
The Frietmuseum fulfills that desire. Founded in 2008, this museum is nestled near the city center and boasts itself as the only museum devoted to telling the story of the potato fry.
To get the most out of your visit, we recommend going in with low expectations as to assure that they will be broken (yet, we assure you, they will be). You will find that this museum is not glamorous—it is clearly a low-budget, homemade production by fry vigilantes. In some ways, it is reminiscent of a fun house, except the creepy mirrors are replaced with potato fun facts, such as but not limited to learning about how potatoes are yet another thing we can thank the South American ancient civilizations for. There’s a body-positive exhibit which I would title “Spuds Come in All Shapes and Sizes,” an informative walk-though of “Taters through the Ages,” in addition to an “ex-tuber-ant” amount of topics to be “tot” about. We were genuinely and pleasantly surprised to find the museum continued beyond each corner.
The exhibit descends into an open collection of artifacts, including newspaper clippings, advertisements, and a Retired Fry Vending Machine. Videos instruct how potatoes are sources and how fries should be properly prepared. And if you’re afraid that all this “ap-peel-ing” fun and learning will spark your appetite, the museum closes with a cafeteria where you can grab a sizeable amount of crisp goods for a decent price.
Although they do refute the origination of the name of our beloved snack as a historical error (arguing that the French-speaking men who changed the world (read: introduced fries to the masses) were Belgian) the Frietmuseum appears to happily prefer using the nation-neutral term: potato fries. In a world where everything seems to be shrouded in controversy, it is pleasant to briefly escape into a space free from such drama, handled by starched professionals.
Prices: 7€ Adults, 6€ Students, 5€ Kids (age 6-11)
Opening Hours: Everyday 10-5PM (Last tickets sold at 4:15PM)
Languages: French, English, and Dutch
Note: The fries and sauces are not suitable for vegans, but we still would encourage you to check out the museum for it’s sheer wonders and artifacts.