Whether you call them chips, frites or fried potato sticks, they’re “one of the world’s truly great culinary inventions”. That’s the extremely accurate claim of Gastropod hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley.

In their podcast’s final episode of the season (online now), they take a deep dive into the mightiest of meal accompaniments.

Who invented it, they ask. Who perfected it? Can food scientists create a fry with the ultimate crispy shell? Does mayo really have the edge over ketchup? You’ll be wiping drool from your chin by minute two.

Graber and Twilley first visit Frietmuseum in Bruges – “the world’s largest collection of fry-related stuff”. It’s the passion project of collector Eddy Van Belle and chief rival of the tiny Home Frit’ Home museum in Brussels.

But while a lot of delicious, starchy history is well documented – in Belgium, at least – “the true origins of the fry are shrouded in mystery”.

The hosts travel back to 16th century Peru, homeland of the humble spud – which Spanish invaders took home to plant as flowers, Van Belle explains.

It took a while for Europeans to twig that potatoes could be deep-fried. One of the first to do so, it’s said, was Teresa of Ávila, patron saint of headache sufferers. She didn’t invent the classic ‘stick’ format, though. That came later in Belgium. Or France. It’s all rather vague.

What’s certain, however, is “you can get good fries almost anywhere” nowadays, say Graber and Twilley, thanks to food boffins. The science lesson that follows will leave your chin dripping wet.