Frietkoten recognised as cultural heritage


Flanders’ french fry stands and culture around the endearingly popular food have been recognised as intagible heritage by the culture ministry

Tourists helped make local fryers aware of uniqueness

Flemish culture minister Joke Schauvliege has added the region’s frieten, or french fry, culture to the government’s list of intangible cultural heritage. Last week the minister received a petition signed by supporters of Navefri, the national association of french fry shops, for the friet culture to be listed.

The claim requires the demonstration of broad public support, which was gathered by the petition circulated during the Week of the Friet in November last year, with more than 20,000 signatures obtained.

The recognition covers the knowledge and traditions of the friet culture, but also the famed frietkot – those roadside stands, often of eye-catching design, where frieten are sold with all the trimmings. “Fry shops have been an everyday thing for so long that there wasn’t any interest in them anymore,” said Navefri chair Bernard Lefèvre. “It was thanks to the interest shown by foreigners that we started realising their value. We now have to ensure they carry on existing.”

The association brought along its own frietkot with the petition, presenting Schauvliege, together with minister-president Kris Peeters and invited members of the press, with a New Year’s portion of frieten.

The association “has demonstrated that its application has the broad support of the public, as we of course already knew,” said Schauvliege. “But the application also shows that there is a heritage community behind the friet who wish to ensure that the tradition continues.”

Other examples of intangible cultural heritage in Flanders include the Last Post ceremony in Ypres, Aalst Carnival, Waregem Koerse horse racing, horseback shrimp fishing and the cultivation of witloof (Belgian endive).

Photo: Joke Schauvliege and Kris Peeters indulge in Flanders’ official cultural heritage

Photo by Nicolas Maeterlinck / BELGA

Flemish culture minister adds region’s french fries to government’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

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