The French kiss isn’t French; it’s Italian. French dressing isn’t French; it’s American. And French fries, as we know them, aren’t French; they’re Belgian.

And, in the same way that the too-German-sounding sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage” during World War I, even the “French” in French fries is flexible. In 2003, when France withheld its support for the proposed U.S. invasion into Iraq, for awhile they became “freedom fries.”

It’s likely that World War II U.S. Army grunts nicknamed the twice-fried, long-cut (julienned) potatoes that they encountered in southern Belgium “French fries” simply because southern Belgians speak French.

It’s exactly how, for coffee-making, we call the plunger pot a “French press.” We first saw it in or from France. The French don’t call it that. They call it a “cafetière à piston.”

For centuries, cooks have written recipes on both sides of the Atlantic for potatoes “served in the French manner” or even “French-fried potatoes,” but none were recipes for what we know as French fries. The potatoes always were sliced very thinly (into “coins”) and cooked, in only one go, in some sort of fat, “goose-dripping,” to cite the 1828 “The Cook and Housewife’s Manual” from England.

“They were very high relish.” Indeed.