Belgian fries — one of this country’s most iconic foods, nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status — are being downsized after an unusually dry and hot European summer stunted potato crops.
Crop yields this year are down by 25 percent from normal and the tubers are smaller, Pierre Lebrun, of the Walloon Potato Growers’ Association, told the Sudepresse tabloid. Since drought has affected countries across Western Europe, importing bigger potatoes isn’t an easily available option. Therefore, “we will all eat smaller fries,” Lebrun said. Normally, fries in Belgium are about three inches long. In the coming months, they’ll stand to lose an inch on average.
To get a sense of how integral fries are to cultural life in Belgium, consider that there are almost 5,000 fry kiosks in this country of 11 million people. That doesn’t include establishments that serve fries with mussels or pubs that offer fries alongside their beers.
Belgians will be consuming stubbier fries this year — and potentially in future years as well, since climate change is expected to lead to more frequent droughts and heat waves in Europe.