While the Incas invented many techniques for preparing potatoes, frying was not one of them. They either baked or boiled or made flour from them. Until after the arrival of the Europeans, the New World had no cooking oil. But in Europe, with lard and olive oil, frying was a common mode of cooking.
Fried potato recipes began to evolve around the late 1700s and early 1800s. Fritters, pancakes, latkes, hash browns, home fries, and rosti were made under various names around the world. Cottage and home fries became breakfast fare, but deep-frying was mastered in France during the late eighteenth century and the resulting dish was called pommes de terre frites, pommes frites, or pomfrits. In Potato: A Global History, author Andrew Smith notes that in 1801 President Thomas Jefferson brought a French chef to the White House and made a note of a recipe for pommes de terre frites à cru, en petites tranches (raw potatoes cut into small strips and fried).
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Excerpted from Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked – And Fried, Too! By Raghavan Iyer. Published by Workman Publishing Co., Inc. Copyright © 2016 Raghavan Iyer. Photo by Matthew Benson.