Oddly enough, even though we have beaten to death the subject of wonderful potatoes, we have not really started ranting and arguing yet about "what is a good french fry?"
Okay, a lot of us want to say that there is no such thing as a bad french fry, but we still have preferences.
For example, I am one of the people not really attracted to crispy shoestring potatoes (i.e. McDonald's, etc.) although you could hardly tell when you watch me gobbling them. I am a fan of thick fries, even to the extent of loving the dreaded (to some people) limp fries that one often finds in European kebab places (because, damn it, they actually use fresh potatoes and fry them themselves instead of using the pre-fried frozen skinny stuff).
I'll get back to other details once some other people have contributed, but obviously we should also discuss what goes with french fries -- ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard or other sauces? Many countries have a totally different take on the subject and Belgium usually offers at least 15 different sauces. When I arrived in France, mustard was the standard dip for french fries, but that has almost disappeared as Belgian mayonnaise has taken over as the principal condiment. I would venture to say that it was started by the Quick fast food chain that started in Belgium, but it was quickly adopted by McDonald's where it holds equal sway with ketchup.
I cut mine fresh then leave them in cold water in the fridge for half an hour or more. Medium to thick sized. Drain well, pat dry and deep fry in sunflower oil until golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen roll to soak up the excess oil. Serve with a sprinkle of salt and several squirts of proper English malt vinegar - no ketchup/mayo/mustard or anything else.
I prefer what we call "steak fries". Fries that are thicker cut potato and deep fried. Although a couple times a year, I am satisfied when we stop off at McDonald's or Wendy's. I do like that Wendy's sprinkles sea salt on them right out of the fryer.
Our pub down the road knows when we have just come back from a European trip as for a couple of months I will ask for mayonnaise on the side for my fries!
My favorite dip for my fries is gravy. When you order fries here, in most restaurants, the next question that is asked is "gravy on the fries?" Ketchup and vinegar are always brought to the table if your meal includes fries.
I don't really care for either thick-cut or shoestring. Belgian type, as the chain "Frites Alors" does here. Crisp, but with potato inside.
I've made my own in duck fat as a special treat for a friend. We were both very happy.
No dip with that, but if not, dip would be European-style NOT SWEET mayo based. I hate ketchup (far too sweet) and "la sauce brune" (gravy) - that kills the crispness. I wonder if salsa - a bit like ketchup, but thankfully not sweet - could be an alternative?
I'll eat both,all, as long as they're properly cooked and served piping hot.
I do prefer the ones that have some potato in them as Lagatta mentioned.
I used to use catsup but over the years much less so, I think they're making it sweeter or my palate has changed, or both.. I like a Belgian dipping sauce that's mostly mayo with a dash of catsup, tabasco and pressed garlic. I also don't mind a a dash of malt vinegar on occasion.
And, always sea salt, a weensy bit of fresh ground pepper.
These were some of the more memorable fries I've had of late. The dipping sauce was as noted in the previous post. The fries met all of my criteria, not too thin, piping hot and enough to share with fellow dining companions without getting annoyed and on the verge of telling them to order their own.
I rarely use any kind of sauce unless I feel that I require even more calories (ha ha) -- but I find it obligatory when buying a cornet of frites on the street or roadside in northeastern France or Benelux.
I know it's all a matter of habit, but I have never managed to appreciate the use of vinegar on fries. The vinegar doesn't stop me from eating them, but I would just as soon do without.
I tend to think of the term "fries" or "chips" as somewhat generic as with "jazz" or "pizza" - many different styles of each of these things - some more to my liking than others but each to be be taken on its own merits and not to be compared to others.
Given a choice, I would always choose a fresh cut fry over a frozen one - done correctly however, the size is not so much an issue. My preference would be for those which fall in between the shoestring and fat or steak cut styles (the ones in casimira's picture look ideal to me). I have had some amazing fresh cut shoestrings though - piled up like a big birds nest.
As for accompaniments... Fresh cut fries call for either salt and vinegar OR salt and a mayo style dipping sauce - in Riyadh they served a garlic version that was dangerously addictive. Frozen fries on the other hand require ketchup - something I think is an insult to a fresh cut fry.
I happen to think Rotten Ronnie's fries are a terrific product - gotta be burn your fingers hot outta the fryer though.
We had to make a quick trip down near the big city so I insisted we stop at a local landmark "Webers" for some fries!
Opened in 1963 by Paul Weber Sr., his intent was to feed the weary highway travellers on the Trans Canada Highway and the droves of people driving north to "Cottage Country" from Toronto.
When the highway was expanded they separated the north and south bound lanes, they lost their southbound customers due to no access. Customers began parking alongside the highway and walking across to get their burgers and fries anyway. The Province installed chain link fences to stop people from doing this but they still were getting through the fences and running across the highway.
Webers then purchased an overpass to span over the highway and then added Rail cars and refurbished them, made some beautiful gardens behind the restaurant and filled them with picnic tables. It is a beautiful respite from a long drive and the food is simple and delicious.
Thanks Kerouac for your thread as it gave me the inspiration to stop and have lunch on our rushed trip south. We have not stopped here in years, always to busy.
Casi, the one railroad car is used for the washrooms. They are actually a little luxurious, granite counter tops, glass tiles, quite nice.
While you are waiting in line someone comes and takes your order, then another person comes and takes your cash (no CC or debit) and the line keeps moving in one door and out another. The line up can look overwhelming but it is amazing how quickly you are in and out.
The menu is very small, hamburger, cheeseburger, hot dog, french fries or poutine. There are only 2 sizes of drinks to choose from, and only one size of french fries. In a business prospective, very efficient and lowers the costs for packaging.
Oh, and they use seasoned salt on their fries. Did you notice the gravy on the menu?
um... maybe "reconstructed potato" isn't the correct term.
Basically they look like french fries (or any other shape you want them to look like) but they are made of some kind of pureed potato rather than from a piece of potato.
In theory a good idea, because it uses bits of potatoes that aren't used in modern chip making, because of shape etc... but if they were less obsessed with having all chips exactly the same size... we could have variety in chips!
Dans les grandes choses, les hommes se montrent comme il leur convient de se montrer; dans les petites, ils se montrent comme ils sont.
You'll find those things in the freezer counters of any major supermarket chain, such as a Loblaws. They resemble croquettes, but croquettes would typically combine some protein source (meat, fish etc) with a starchy filler (potato, breadcrumbs etc). Not the healthiest thing but can be tasty if made well.
I hate molecular gastronomy as well, In Catalonia, I'd much rather eat the regional dishes, and if by the coast, fish and seafood. Modern riffs can be very nice, but the "molecular" stuff drives me mad.
Yes, I know those lagatta as the kids loved them when they were younger. I've not seen the sort of thing Annie explains though - potatoes deconstructed and then put back together to look just like chips.
I love those fat and limp fries, preferably fried in peanut oil. If they are good fries, they only require a little salt and white vinegar (not malt, thank you). Ketchup is for not so good fries - the skinny crunchy ones.