Nothing says father-son bonding like opening a museum that celebrates the history and institution of fried potatoes, so Eddy and Cedric Van Belle claim in the Daily Mail. When the Belgian duo discovered that there were no museums showcasing the frite — the French word for French fry, which is actually a Belgian culinary innovation — they found a home for the world’s first and only museum devoted to fries in Bruges, where the Frietmuseum occupies two floors of the historic Saaihalle building.
The 14th century building houses exhibitions that look at the origins of the potato from 10,000 years ago in Peru, how the spuds first made their way to Europe, and then the progression from nutritional supplement to contemporary fried treat. Samples are available in the medieval cellars and fair trade potato chips — grown in Peru as a cooperative enterprise project that greatly increases the quality of the local culture there — are sold in the gift shop.
As the chairman of Puratos — an international food group focusing on products, materials, and expertise in baking — in Belgium, Eddy Van Belle has been involved with equally niche-oriented food venues like the Sourdough Library in Saint Vith, and chocolate museums established in Belgium, Prague and Paris, with a fourth in the works.
Though it has only been open for a few years, the Frietmuseum has been well received and was named one of the 10 best food museums other than the Museum of Food, by Bon Appetit earlier this year. Other contenders included the Shinyokohama Ramen Museum in Japan, the Currywurst Museum in Berlin, and the Burnt Food Museum in Massachusetts, which celebrates “two decades of culinary disaster.”