“Freedom Fries”

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Walter Jones, congressman behind ‘freedom fries’, dies at 76

Walter B. JonesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionWalter B. Jones deeply regretted his support of the Iraq war

Republican congressman Walter B Jones, known for changing the name of French fries in government cafeterias to “freedom fries”, has died.

Mr Jones was a keen supporter of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and pushed for the name change in protest against France’s opposition to the war.

But he later had a complete change of heart, becoming one of the most vocal critics of the war in his party.

His office confirmed that he died on 10 February, his 76th birthday.

Mr Jones represented his district for 34 years, first in the North Carolina state legislature, then in Congress.

Presentational grey line
Presentational grey line

At the time of his death, he was being cared for in a hospice in Greenville, North Carolina, having broken his hip last month. His office said that his health declined after his fall on 14 January.

Congressman Jones will long be remembered for his honesty, faith and integrity,” a statement from his office said.

“He was never afraid to take a principled stand. He was known for his independence, and widely admired across the political spectrum. Some may not have agreed with him, but all recognised that he did what he thought was right.”

‘Freedom fries’

Like most Republicans – and a number of Democrats – Mr Jones backed President George W Bush’s resolution to use military force in Iraq to oust its leader Saddam Hussein.

Mr Bush justified the invasion by claiming that Saddam Hussein had developed and hidden weapons of mass destruction.

France, which threatened to veto the UN’s resolution authorising US-led military action, was the most vocal in its opposition to the war.

In response, Mr Jones and his fellow Republican Robert W Ney pushed for cafeterias in the House of Representatives to rename their French fries and French toast “freedom fries” and “freedom toast”.

Freedom friesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAll of the fries in House cafeterias were renamed ‘freedom fries’.

The two congressmen were successful, and the new names were met with praise and derision in equal measure.

No weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, and it was later revealed that the war was justified using faulty information.

At the same time, Mr Jones met grieving families whose loved ones were killed in the war. This caused him to have a dramatic change of heart, and in 2005 he called for the troops to be brought home.

He spoke candidly on several occasions about how deeply he regretted supporting the war, which led to the deaths of more than 140,000 Iraqi and American people.

“I have signed over 12,000 letters to families and extended families who’ve lost loved ones in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” he told NPR in 2017. “That was, for me, asking God to forgive me for my mistake.”

New Way to View Fries

(I condone the thought behind this radical, impractical approach.)

Yes, I do want precisely 6 French fries with that

The New York Times discovers French fries aren’t healthy — and also proposes an unexpectedly brilliant solution.

French fries are good.
UIG/Getty Images

Today, the New York Times uncovered a dark truth: French fries are not healthy. Did you know?

“If French fries come from potatoes, and potatoes are a vegetable, and vegetables are good for you, then what’s the harm in eating French fries?” asks the paper’s Christopher Mele, before launching into an extensive explanation of the fry’s many dangers.

For example, a study published last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, “controlling for other risk factors, participants who ate fried potatoes two to three times a week were at a higher risk of mortality compared with those who ate unfried potatoes.”

The article goes on to illuminate more (somewhat self-evident) dangers of potatoes, especially fried ones, which, coincidentally, are the most consumed vegetable in the US. Americans eat an average of 115.6 pounds of white potatoes per year; according to Agriculture Department statistics, two-thirds of those “are in the form of French fries, potato chips and other frozen or processed potato products.”

Buried in this warning, amid various suggestions to mitigate the impact of fry indulgence — be wary of excessive condiments; eat homemade baked fries instead — is a brilliant proposal.

“There aren’t a lot of people who are sending back three-quarters of an order of French fries,” laments Dr. Eric Rimm, a professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”

It would be nice! Is it possible the solution has been so simple all along? A side salad, and just a handful of fries for good measure, enough to bask in the supreme pleasure of fry-eating without being forced to exercise otherworldly self-control or to fork over the cost of a full order. It would be a bite of fry. An essence of fry. A fry-nibble. Not a commitment to FRIES, but enough to have partaken in frydom. A casual fry-fling.

I am certainly not advocating this be the only option: Full orders of French fries should, of course, continue to exist. Fries are delicious, and foods do not have inherent moral value. I want to rob no one of their fry experience. Nor am I suggesting that salads cannot be pleasurable. I am skeptical that most fast-food side salads are pleasurable, but this is a logistics problem, not a categorical one. Salads: often good, sometimes transcendent.

I am simply suggesting that in many circumstances, it would be an ideal option. Consider the following: You are at dinner with a companion, who has ordered fries. You, on the other hand, opted for the salad. But you would like a fry. Just one fry. Two fries. Perhaps three fries.

“Can I have a fry?” you say. What if, though, you did not have to ask? What if you, a self-sufficient individual, could just order your own three or six or nine fries? Are these not modern times?

Or: You are at dinner with a companion, who has ordered a salad. You, a person who wants fries, have ordered the fries. “Can I have a fry?” they say, longingly, and you oblige, because that is our social contract. Wouldn’t it be better if they could just order their own A Fry?

Or: You are alone, which is also a great way to eat. You want to order the salad. Leafy greens. A good tomato wedge. For any number of legitimate reasons — health, taste, appetite, how your digestive system might feel later, a craving for arugula — you don’t want a full order of fries. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just order a side salad with a side-side of fries? Would this not radically overhaul your life?

What if, for that matter, fast food offered an a la carte tapas menu? A Nugget; A Tater Tot; A Fry. Haven’t you ever wanted whatever your order was, and also a lone nug?

Is this a good idea, from a business perspective? Almost certainly not. So let’s aim low, together. Let’s focus on fries — a handful, a sampling, a six-pack of fries.

National French Fry Day 2018

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National French Fry Day 2018: Fry deals from McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell

Burger Fi and other spots have special deals for National French Fry Day.
Burger Fi and other spots have special deals for National French Fry Day.
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What better way to celebrate a Friday than with French fries?

Today, July 13, is National French Fry Day and plenty of places are offering free or discounted deals on everyone’s favorite crispy potato treat. Not every location participates in all promotions, so be sure to check ahead.

Here’s a look at some of the best deals and discounts for National French Fry Day:

McDonald’s

Place an order via McDonald’s mobile app for $1 or more and receive a free medium order of fries.

Burger Fi

Selected locations are offering free order of regular hand-cut fries with any purchase. Offer good July 13 only from open to close.

Burger King

Get two small orders of fries and two Original Chicken Sandwiches for $4.99 with a coupon in the restaurant’s app.

Hardee’s

Sign up for the chain’s emails and receive a free small fries and beverage with purchase of any One-Third Pound Thickburger.

Taco Bell

The chain has brought back Nacho Fries.
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The Belgium Twist on Fries, from Expatica

The truth about ‘French’ fries: They’re Belgian, you know

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French fries have nothing to do with France – as many Belgians will attest – so why we do mistakenly refer to them as ‘French fries’? Where did French fries come from?

Fries form half of one of the top Belgian foods along with a pot of mussels – known as moules frites – and are a national Belgian symbol with political punch.

If you say the word potato, the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 and the origination of tubers in South America come to mind. But chop them up, drop them in a vat of simmering oil, add a touch of salt and you’ve got a whole new ball-game of Belgian fries. So where exactly is the French fries origin?

Indeed, you will make no mistake about the French fries origin once you visit Belgium: Fries have permeated into every pore of Belgian culture from pop art and comic strips to music and advertising. You will find fritesstalls (frietkot) across Belgium, which are certain to ensure the economic return on Belgian potatoes (bintjes) for eons to come.

Where did French fries come from?

The ‘chip’ or ‘French fry’ has gone a long way in putting the Kingdom of Belgium on the map – culinary or otherwise – even if they are called ‘freedom fries’ in-flight on Air Force One, ‘patates kizartmasi‘ in an Istanbul Café, ‘gamza teekim‘ on the streets of Seoul or ranskalaiset perunat sitting on a bench in Helsinki.

Often mistaken as French in origin, the word ‘french’ became synonymous with frites due to the fact that, in old English, to ‘french’ was to ‘cut lengthwise’. Hence, the French fry.

“We modest Belgians don’t mind the French claim because we know that fries are God’s gift to our people,” exclaims a website completely dedicated to the art form of Belgian fries making.

You wouldn’t be the only one to mistake the French fries origin. ‘Fry ban targets wrong country’ went a Reuters headline at the height of the French product boycott in the US following its stance against the Iraqi conflict.

“The chip is essentially regarded in Belgium as a culture, social strata and gender bridge: soul food,” says Paul Ilegems, curator of the Belgium Chip Museum on the second floor of Frietkot Max on Antwerp’s Groenplaats.

“What would Belgium be without chips?” he asks in the pages of “Het Belgisch Frietenbook, “Just a grayish zone, an insignificant stain on the globe, deprived of any personality.”

A bit harsh perhaps but it’s obviously clear that frites are serious stuff in Belgium.

“Belgium is beer, cartoons, mussels, chips and the Royal family,” a frietkot (frite stall) owner sums up.

The real history of French fries

What we recognise today as Belgian ‘fritesor ‘friets‘ is thought to have originated in the Meuse region in the year 1680. The poor inhabitants of the Meuse valley area subsisted mainly on fish, but when the river Meuse froze in 1680, potatoes were cut into the shape of fish, fried and used as a substitute to their main staple – or so the story of Belgian fries goes.

The Belgian tourism board says that Belgian fries – ‘les frites’ – were incorrectly named ‘French fries’ by American servicemen when they came to Belgium at the end of World War I. The French fries mislabel was reportedly the result of naming the fries after the French language spoken in Wallonia.

There has been much disagreement over the origin of frites as the region lies in the heart of French-speaking Wallonia, forcing Flanders to desperately seek a Flemish origin to the food. But, as in most countries, food can define culture and in frites are generally accepted as a unifying force and thoroughly ‘Belgian’ – francophone or not.

French fries (or rather Belgian fries) are thought to have arrived in the US in the late 1700s when Thomas Jefferson brought the method back to the colonies. We can guess it’s the method he brought back and not a soggy bag of chips.

In the UK, the first chip is believed to have materialised at Dundee Market in the 1870s, traded by a Belgian immigrant named Edward De Gernier.

As for the frites add-on essential, mayonnaise, its origin is cloudy. One theory connects it to the harbour town of Mahon, liberated by Cardinal Richelieux from the English. The towns of Bayonne and Mayon, however, also claim the golden morsels as their own.

Finding the perfect frites

Frites have essentially become a national Belgian symbol sold out of caravans and shacks and chalets, fried twice (trade secret), dash of salt, glob of mayonnaise, a little plastic fork and presto: perfect fries.

The idea has been exported to New York and, as the song goes, if a chip can make it there it can make it anywhere.

Lest we forget though that there are many levels of Belgian chip-eatery – not all of them are handed over a greasy counter in an off-white paper cone by a burley chip-van owner in Anderlecht. On restaurant menus you can find filet mignon served with a chiffoné of pommes frites, if you please.

Fries have come a long way since their fishy origins and have mutated to fit each culture that has adopted them – newspaper-stained and doused in salt and vinegar in Birmingham, or cooked in peanut oil and served in a basket of palm leaves in Borneo, to name a few.

But they remain Belgian through and through while encouraging Breughel-belly across the globe.

Although the US may not have known it, they were killing two birds with one stone when they boycotted French fries – they made a point to the French and rejected a Belgian product at the same time.

Who would have guessed the political power of potatoes?

French fries recipe

The best potatoes for French fries are fresh, never frozen, and with a medium-firm consistency that is not too firm nor too soft. In the best French fries recipe, frites are cut rectangular around 1cm square. The secret to the Belgian fries recipe is that the potato is fried twice. The Belgian tourism board recommends that the first fry should be done at 150°C and the second fry at 175 °C.

The result are golden perfect French fries that have a soft inside once your crunch through a crispy outside. You then just have to choose your frite topping or speciality fries sauces in Belgium, such as:

  • mayonnaise, curry mayonnaise, curry ketchup
  • andalouse sauce – a mix of peppers, mayonnaise and tomato paste, pickles
  • samurai sauce – mayonnaise with Tunisian chili, spices, tomatoes and bell peppers
  • pickel sauce – a yellow, vinegar-based sauce with turmeric, mustard and chunks of crunchy vegetable.
  • sauce americaine – mayonnaise with tomato, chervil (French parsley), onions, capers, seafood stock and celery.
  • sauce riche – pink, tartar-based sauce
  • fromage – cheese.

Read tips on how to get perfect French fries in this not-no-secret French fries recipe.

 

Wikipedia on French fries

French fries

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
French Fries
Fries 2

A serving of French fries
Alternative names Chips, finger chips, fries, frites, hot chips, steak fries, potato wedges, wedges
Course Side dish or snack, rarely as a main dish
Place of origin Belgium, France, or Spain
Created by Disputed
Serving temperature Hot, generally salted
Main ingredients
Variations curly fries, shoestring fries, steak fries, sweet potato fries, Chili cheese fries, poutine
Other information Often served with a side of ketchup, mayonnaise, vinegar, barbecue sauce, or other sauce
Cookbook: French Fries  Media: French Fries

French fries (North American English), chips (British English),[1] finger chips (Indian English),[2] or French-fried potatoes are batonnet or allumette-cut deep-fried potatoes. In the United States and most of Canada, the term fries refers to all dishes of fried elongated pieces of potatoes, while in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa (rarely), Ireland and New Zealand, thinly cut fried potatoes are sometimes called shoestring fries or skinny fries to distinguish them from chips, which are cut thicker.

French fries are served hot, either soft or crispy, and are generally eaten as part of lunch or dinner or by themselves as a snack, and they commonly appear on the menus of diners, fast food restaurants, pubs, and bars. They are usually salted and, depending on the country, may be served with tomato sauce, ketchup, vinegar, mayonnaise, or other local specialties. Fries can be topped more heavily, as in the dishes of poutine and chili cheese fries. Chips can be made from kumara or other sweet potatoes instead of potatoes. A baked variant, oven chips, uses less oil or no oil.[3] One very common fast food dish is fish and chips.

Preparation

Pommes frites with a mayonnaise packet

French fries are prepared by first peeling and cutting the potato into even strips. These are then wiped off or soaked in cold water to remove the surface starch, and thoroughly dried.[4][5] They may then be fried in one or two stages. Chefs generally agree that the two-bath technique produces better results.[4][6][7] Potatoes fresh out of the ground can have too high a water content – resulting in soggy fries – so preference is for spuds that have been in storage for a while.[8]

In the two-stage or two-bath method, the first bath, sometimes called blanching, is in hot fat (around 160 °C / 320 °F) to cook them through. This may be done in advance.[4] Then they are more briefly fried in very hot fat (190 °C / 375 °F) to crisp the exterior. They are then placed in a colander or on a cloth to drain, salted, and served. The exact times of the two baths depend on the size of the potatoes. For example, for 2–3mm strips, the first bath takes about 3 minutes, and the second bath takes only seconds.[4] There are several common techniques to cook French Fries. Deep frying is a cooking method in which food is submerged in hot fat, most commonly oil. Vacuum fryers are fit to process low-quality potatoes that contain higher sugar levels than normal, as they frequently have to be processed in spring and early summer before the potatoes from the new harvest become available. In the UK, a Chip pan is a deep-sided cooking pan used for deep-frying. Chip pans are named for their traditional use in frying chips.

Most French fries are produced from frozen potatoes which have been blanched or at least air-dried industrially.[9] Most chain that sell fresh cut fries rely on the Idaho Russet Burbank variety of potatoes. It has been the standard for French fries in the United States.[8] The usual fat for making French fries is vegetable oil. In the past, beef suet was recommended as superior,[4] with vegetable shortening as an alternative. In fact, McDonald’s used a mixture of 93% beef tallow and 7% cottonseed oil until 1990, when they switched to vegetable oil with beef flavoring.[10][11] Starting in the sixties, more fast food restaurants have been using frozen French fries.[8]

Etymology

Thomas Jefferson had “potatoes served in the French manner” at a White House dinner in 1802.[12][13] The expression “French fried potatoes” first occurred in print in English in the 1856 work Cookery for Maids of All Work by E. Warren: “French Fried Potatoes. – Cut new potatoes in thin slices, put them in boiling fat, and a little salt; fry both sides of a light golden brown colour; drain.”[14] This account referred to thin, shallow-fried slices of potato – it is not clear where or when the now familiar deep-fried batons or fingers of potato were first prepared. In the early 20th century, the term “French fried” was being used in the sense of “deep-fried” for foods like onion rings or chicken.[15][16]

By country

Belgium and the Netherlands

A patatje speciaal, with frietsaus, curry ketchup or tomato ketchup, and chopped raw onions, is popular in the Netherlands.

A Belgian frites shop

There is an ongoing dispute between the French and Belgians about where fries were invented, with both countries claiming ownership.[17] From the Belgian standpoint the popularity of the term “French fries” is explained as a “French gastronomic hegemony” into which the cuisine of Belgium was assimilated because of a lack of understanding coupled with a shared language and geographic proximity between the two countries.[17]

Belgian journalist Jo Gérard claims that a 1781 family manuscript recounts that potatoes were deep-fried prior to 1680 in the Meuse valley, in what was then the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium): “The inhabitants of Namur, Andenne, and Dinant had the custom of fishing in the Meuse for small fish and frying, especially among the poor, but when the river was frozen and fishing became hazardous, they cut potatoes in the form of small fish and put them in a fryer like those here.”[18][19] Gérard has not produced the manuscript that supports this claim due to the fact that it is unrelated to the later history of the French fry, as the potato did not arrive in the region until around 1735. Also, given 18th century economic conditions: “It is absolutely unthinkable that a peasant could have dedicated large quantities of fat for cooking potatoes. At most they were sautéed in a pan…”.[20]

“French fries” for deep fried potato batons were also introduced when American soldiers arrived in Belgium during World War I. The Belgians had previously been catering to the British soldiers’ love of chips and continued to serve them to the Americans when they took over the western end of the front.[21] The Americans took them to be French fried potatoes because they believed themselves to be in France, with French being the local language and the official language of the Belgian Army at that time.[18] At that time, the term “French fries” was growing in popularity – the term was already used in the United States as early as 1899 – although it isn’t clear whether this referred to batons (chips) or slices of potato e.g. in an item in Good Housekeeping which specifically references “Kitchen Economy in France”: “The perfection of French fries is due chiefly to the fact that plenty of fat is used”.[22]

Pommes frites” or just “frites” (French), “frieten” (Flemish) or “patat” (Dutch) became the national snack and a substantial part of several national dishes, such as Moules-frites or Steak-frites.[23] Fries are very popular in Belgium, where they are known as frieten (in Dutch) or frites (in French), and the Netherlands, where among the working classes they are known as patat in the north and, in the south, friet.[24] In Belgium, fries are sold in shops called friteries (French), frietkot/frituur (Dutch), or Fritüre/Frittüre (German). They are served with a large variety of Belgian sauces and eaten either on their own or with other snacks. Traditionally fries are served in a cornet de frites (French), patatzak[25]/frietzak/fritzak (Dutch/Flemish), or Frittentüte (German), a white cardboard cone, then wrapped in paper, with a spoonful of sauce (often mayonnaise) on top.

Friteries and other fast food establishments tend to offer a number of different sauces for the fries and meats. In addition to ketchup and mayonnaise, popular options include:[26] aioli, sauce andalouse, sauce Americaine, Bicky Dressing (Gele Bicky-sauce), curry mayonnaise, mammoet-sauce, peanut sauce, samurai-sauce, sauce “Pickles“, pepper-sauce, tartar sauce, zigeuner sauce, and À la zingara.

Spain

In Spain, fried potatoes are called patatas fritas or papas fritas. Another common form, involving larger irregular cuts, is patatas bravas. The potatoes are cut into big chunks, partially boiled and then fried. They are usually seasoned with a spicy tomato sauce, and the dish is one of the most preferred tapas by Spaniards.[27] Fries may have been invented in Spain, the first European country in which the potato appeared from the New World colonies, and assume fries’ first appearance to have been as an accompaniment to fish dishes in Galicia,[28] from which it spread to the rest of the country and then further away, to the “Spanish Netherlands”, which became Belgium more than a century later. Professor Paul Ilegems, curator of the Frietmuseum in Bruges, Belgium, believes that Saint Teresa of Ávila of Spain cooked the first French fries, and refers also to the tradition of frying in Mediterranean cuisine as evidence.[19][29]

France

Steak frites in Fontainebleau, France

In France and other French-speaking countries, fried potatoes are formally pommes de terre frites, but more commonly pommes frites, patates frites, or simply frites. The words aiguillettes (“needle-ettes”) or allumettes (“matchsticks”) are used when the French fries are very small and thin. One enduring origin story holds that French fries were invented by street vendors on the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris in 1789, just before the outbreak of the French Revolution.[30] However, a reference exists in France from 1775 to “a few pieces of fried potato” and to “fried potatoes”.[31]

Eating potatoes for sustenance was promoted in France by Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, but he did not mention fried potatoes in particular. Many Americans attribute the dish to France and offer as evidence a notation by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson: “Pommes de terre frites à cru, en petites tranches” (“Potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small slices”) in a manuscript in Thomas Jefferson’s hand (circa 1801–1809) and the recipe almost certainly comes from his French chef, Honoré Julien.[12] In addition, from 1813[32] on, recipes for what can be described as “French fries” occur in popular American cookbooks. By the late 1850s, a cookbook was published that used the term French fried potatoes.[33] The thick-cut fries are called Pommes Pont-Neuf[4] or simply pommes frites (about 10 mm); thinner variants are pommes allumettes(matchstick potatoes; about 7 mm), and pommes paille (potato straws; 3–4 mm). (Roughly 0.4, 0.3 and 0.15 inch respectively.) Pommes gaufrettes are waffle fries. A popular dish in France is steak-frites, which is steak accompanied by thin French fries.

Canada

The town of Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, headquarters of McCain Foods, calls itself “the French fry capital of the world” and also hosts a museum about potatoes called “Potato World”.[34] It is also one of the world’s largest manufacturers of frozen French fries and other potato specialties.[35]

A popular Québécois dish is poutine, such as this one from La Banquiserestaurant in Montreal. It is made with French fries, cheese curds and gravy.

Frites are the main ingredient in the Canadian/Québécois dish known (in both Canadian English and French) as poutine; a dish consisting of fried potatoes covered with cheese curds and brown gravy. Poutine has a growing number of variations but is generally considered to have been developed in rural Québec sometime in the 1950s, although precisely where in the province it first appeared is a matter of contention.[36][37][38] Canada is also responsible for providing 22% of China’s French fries.[39][40]

Germany, Austria, Switzerland

Currywurst and frites, Germany

French fries migrated to the German-speaking countries during the 19th century. In Germany, where they are usually known by the French words pommes frites, or only Pommes or Fritten (derived from the French words but pronounced as German words). They are often served with mayonnaise, and are a popular walking snack offered by Schnellimbiss (“quick bite”) kiosks.[41] Since the advent of Currywurst in the 1950s, a paper tray of sausage (bratwurst or bockwurst) anointed with curry ketchup, laced with additional curry powder and a side of french fries, has become an immensely popular fast food meal.[42]

United Kingdom and Ireland

The standard deep-fried cut potatoes in the United Kingdom are called chips, and are cut into pieces between 10 and 15 mm (0.39 and 0.59 in) wide. They are occasionally made from unpeeled potatoes (skins showing). British chips are not the same thing as potato chips (an American term); those are called “crisps” in Britain. In the UK, chips are part of the popular, and now international, fast food dish fish and chips.

The first chips fried in the UK were sold by Mrs. ‘Granny’ Duce in one of the West Riding towns in 1854.[43] A blue plaque in Oldham marks the origin of the fish-and-chip shop, and thus the start of the fast food industry in Britain.[44] In Scotland, chips were first sold in Dundee: “in the 1870s, that glory of British gastronomy – the chip – was first sold by Belgian immigrant Edward De Gernier in the city’s Greenmarket”.[45]In Ireland the first chip shop was “opened by Giuseppe Cervi”, an Italian immigrant, “who arrived there in the 1880s”.[46] It is estimated that in the UK, 80% of households buy frozen fries each year.[47]

United States

French fry production at a restaurant with thermostatic temperature control

Although French fries were a popular dish in most British commonwealth countries, the “thin style” French fries have been popularized worldwide in large part by the large American fast food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.[48] In the United States, the J. R. Simplot Company is credited with successfully commercializing French fries in frozen form during the 1940s. Subsequently, in 1967, Ray Kroc of McDonald’s contracted the Simplot company to supply them with frozen fries, replacing fresh-cut potatoes as an ingredient. In 2004, 29% of the United States’ potato crop was used to make frozen fries – 90% consumed by the food services sector and 10% by retail.[49] The United States is also known for supplying China with most of their French fries as 70% of China’s French fries are imported.[50].[40] Pre-made French fries have been available for home cooking since the 1960s, having been pre-fried (or sometimes baked), frozen and placed in a sealed plastic bag.[51] Some varieties of French fries that appeared later have been battered and breaded, and many fast food chains in the U.S. dust the potatoes with kashi, dextrin, and other flavor coatings for crispier fries with particular tastes.[52] French fries are one of the most popular dishes in the United States, commonly being served as a side dish to entrees and being seen in fast food restaurants. The average American eats around 30 pounds of French fries a year. [53][54]

Variants

A child holding tornado fries

There are several variants of French fries. A partial list, in alphabetical order:

  • Carne asada fries – fries covered with carne asada, guacamole, sour cream and cheese
  • Cheese fries (UK – cheesy chips) – fries covered with cheese
  • Chile fries – (not to be confused with chili fries) fries topped with green chile peppers, common in the US state of New Mexico
  • Chili fries – (not to be confused with chile fries) fries covered with chili con carne
  • Chili cheese fries – fries covered with chili and cheese
  • Crinkle-cut fries – also known as “wavy fries”, they’re cut in a corrugated, ridged fashion[55]
  • Curly fries – characterized by their spring-like shape, cut from whole potatoes using a specialized spiral slicer.[55]
  • Curry chips – fries covered in curry sauce, a popular item served by chip shops in Ireland
  • French fry sandwich[56] – such as the chip butty and the Mitraillette
  • Oven fries – fries that are cooked in the oven as a final step in the preparation (having been coated with oil during preparation at the factory), often sold frozen
  • Potato wedges – Thick-cut fries[55] with the skin
  • Poutine – a dish consisting of fries topped with cheese curds and light brown gravy and principally associated with the Canadian province of Québec
  • Shoestring fries – thin-cut fries[55]
  • Steak fries – thick-cut fries[55] In France, when served with steak, Steak frites
  • Sweet potato fries – fries made with sweet potatoes instead of traditional white potatoes
  • Tornado fries – spiral-cut potatoes that are placed on a skewer and then deep fried[55]
  • Waffle fries – lattice-shaped fries[55] obtained by quarter-turning the potato before each next slide over a grater and deep-frying just once

Accompaniments

Fries tend to be served with a variety of accompaniments, such as salt and vinegar (malt, balsamic or white), pepper, Cajun seasoning, grated cheese, melted cheese, mushy peas, heated curry sauce, curry ketchup (mildly spiced mix of the former), hot sauce, relish, mustard, mayonnaise, bearnaise sauce, tartar sauce, chili, tzatziki, feta cheese, garlic sauce, fry sauce, butter, sour cream, ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, gravy, honey, aioli, brown sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, piccalilli, pickled cucumber, pickled gherkins, pickled onions or pickled eggs.[57]

Health aspects

Fries frying in oil

French fries primarily contain carbohydrates (mostly in the form of starch) and protein from the potato, and fat absorbed during the deep-frying process. Salt, which contains sodium is almost always applied as a surface seasoning. For example, a large serving of French fries at McDonald’s in the United States is 154 grams. The 510 calories come from 66 g of carbohydrates, 24 g of fat, 7 g of protein and 350 mg of sodium.[58]

French fries have been critically panned by experts for being very unhealthy. According to Jonathan Bonnet, MD, in a TIME magazine article, “fries are nutritionally unrecognizable from a spud” as they “involve frying, salting, and removing one of the healthiest parts of the potato: the skin, where many of the nutrients and fiber are found.”[59]Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, calls French fries “…an extremely starchy vegetable dipped in a fryer that then loads on the unhealthy fat, and what you have left is a food that has no nutritional redeeming value in it at all.”[59] David Katz, MD states that “French fries are often the super-fatty side dish to a burger—and both are often used as vehicles for things like sugar-laced ketchup and fatty mayo.”[59]

Frying french fries in beef tallow, lard, or other animal fats adds saturated fat to the diet. Replacing animal fats with tropical vegetable oils, such as palm oil, simply substitutes one saturated fat for another. For many years partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were used as a means of avoiding cholesterol and reducing saturated fatty acid content, but in time the trans fat content of these oils was perceived as contributing to cardiovascular disease.[60] Starting in 2008, many restaurant chains and manufacturers of pre-cooked frozen French fries for home reheating phased out trans fat containing vegetable oils[61][62]

French fries contain some of the highest levels of acrylamides of any foodstuff, and concerns have been raised about the impact of acrylamides on human health.[63][64] According to the American Cancer Society, it is not clear as of 2013 whether acrylamide consumption affects people’s risk of getting cancer.[63] A meta-analysis indicated that dietary acrylamide is not related to the risk of most common cancers, but could not exclude a modest association for kidney, endometrial or ovarian cancers.[64] A lower-fat method for producing a French fry-like product is to coat “Frenched” or wedge potatoes in oil and spices/flavoring before baking them. The heat will not be as high as when deep frying, and this also reduces acrylamides.[65]

Oven-baked fries

Legal issues

In June 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), with the advisement of a federal district judge from Beaumont, Texas, classified batter-coated French fries as a vegetable under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. This was primarily for trade reasons; French fries do not meet the standard to be listed as a processed food.[66][67] This classification, referred to as the “French fry rule”, was upheld in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit case Fleming Companies, Inc. v. USDA.[68][69]

In the United States, in 2002, the McDonald’s Corporation agreed to donate to Hindus and other groups to settle lawsuits filed against the chain for mislabeling French fries and hash browns as vegetarian because beef extract was added in their production.[11]

See also

References

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Bibliography

Should McDonald’s go Back to Beef Tallow for Great Fries?

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Were McDonald’s Fries Better Before the ’90s?

Malcolm Gladwell discusses a change in the recipe that impacted his childhood

 

Photo illustration by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

In February, The Ringer ranked McDonald’s french fries as the third-best fast food item in America. But some think that McDonald’s fries used to be much, much better. On a recent episode of his podcast, Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell uncovered a change that McDonald’s made in its fries in 1992. Were the fries better before then? Gladwell and Joe House discussed the change on the latest episode of House of Carbs.

Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Gladwell: I remember, as I’m sure you remember, how good McDonald’s french fries were back in the day. When I was a teenager and I went to McDonald’s all the time, I went there because of the fries. And then at a certain point, the fries didn’t taste the same. They sucked. I go back there now and they’re not the fries I grew up on. And so I’ve always been curious about this. What happened?

I decided I’m going to get to the bottom of this. And the answer is—they changed the way they made them in 1992. They went from frying them in beef tallow to frying them in some combination of vegetable oil. And as you dig into this, what you realize is that that is not an inconsequential move. It’s not like when you’re frying an egg where it doesn’t really matter what you fry it in. A fried egg is a fried egg. A french fry is a combination of a potato and some kind of cooking element. The thing you fry it in becomes a constituent part of the fry.

There was an enormous thought that went into how to make a french fry properly back in the ’50s, when fast food [was] getting started in this country. And let’s also remember, it’s a crucial part of the story that McDonald’s is McDonald’s not because of the burger. It’s McDonald’s because of the fries. Ray Kroc, when he goes to the original fast food place run by the McDonald brothers in San Bernardino, California, in the ’50s, he didn’t give a shit about the burger. I mean, there’s tons of good burgers. Anyone who has barbecued knows you can’t botch the burger, right? The fries were what blew him away. And he says in his autobiography, the fries would be sacrosanct. In other words, he was attracted to this—to what the McDonald brothers were doing because they had figured out the secret of the fry. And he wasn’t going to screw it up. And then what happened? He screwed it up. Forty years later, he changed the recipe.

I mean this is the emotional undercurrent of my podcast. It’s called “McDonald’s Broke My Heart” because they did break my heart. I care passionately about fries.

House: So during my lifetime and yours, it was widely accepted amongst all of my peers and friends and even adults that McDonald’s served the very best french fries. And for me, that has persisted to my thinking today, notwithstanding the fact that I know that the recipe changed. And what I’m curious about is—because you were introduced to McDonald’s french fries kind of later, not as a child—it’s probably a lot more palpable. The experience of your enjoyment of the french fries changed in a way that it didn’t change for me that way.

Gladwell: You got anchored. I think maybe that’s why I had such a bad reaction to the switch. What I do in the show is I go to the leading food research and development house in the country—place called Mattson—and I had them … do a taste test. And they made french fries just like McDonald’s would. The old-fashioned way using beef tallow, and then they made a precise replica of the modern fries, and we did a blind taste test. It’s no contest. I mean, it’s like you’re eating two completely different foodstuffs. It’s phenomenal. It blows my mind that McDonald’s would do this. So they know it better than anyone what they had to give up when they shifted from beef tallow. They were throwing away the franchise. And they must have done taste tests. And they must have said, “Oh my God, we’re taking something that’s an A+ and we’re taking it down to a B-, and even though our brand and our livelihood depends on this food item, we’re going to throw it away.”

House: This is basically a cost-benefit analysis, right?

Gladwell: I think they were—there was a time of real hysteria about saturated fat, and they thought that fast food would be doomed unless it donned the cloak of good nutrition. Even though that’s absurd. I mean, it’s a french fry. It’s never going to be a healthy product. And it turns out to be false that vegetable oil is healthier for you than beef tallow. That’s also wrong. So not only did they destroy the french fry, they gave us something that was worse for us from a health perspective. So everything about it was a mistake. If they had any balls at all, they would turn around and say, “We were wrong, and we’re going back to fries the old way.”

Baking Your Own Crisp Fries

The Secret to Baking Perfectly Crispy French Fries

Chances are, you probably already know how to make French fries. Toss sliced potatoes with a little bit of oil, transfer to a baking sheet, and bake until crispy. It’s so easy that your dog could probably do it, if only your dog had opposable thumbs.

So why do they never seem to turn out as golden and delicious as you expected?

Because, like with all seemingly simple recipes, there’s a way to getting things just right. Don’t worry—it’s not complicated. In fact, you don’t even need a recipe. To make really delicious oven fries, all you need is the right ingredients in the right ratios, plus a few basic techniques to achieve that mouthwatering crisp-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside texture. Here’s how to do it.

1. Start with the right spuds.

Opt for plain old Russet potatoes. Unlike Yukon Golds or red-skinned potatoes, they’re starchy instead of waxy. And that high-starch content is key for helping your fry crisp up on the outside while staying fluffy on the inside, says Paul Malvone, executive chef of the burger meal-delivery kit service BurgaBox.

2. Slice them on the thinner side.

Just like a great French fry, a great oven fry needs the right balance of crisp outer crust to soft, fluffy center. To get that, you want potato slices that are about 1/4-inch thick, says Malvone. Fries sliced thinner will burn before they finish cooking through. Go thicker, and you’ll be veering into baked potato territory.

3. Pat them dry and toss with a secret ingredient.

Moisture on the outside of your potato slices makes it harder for oil to adhere to the surface. And if the oil can’t adhere to the surface, your fries won’t crisp up. Give your sliced potatoes a quick pat with a paper or kitchen towel to dry them off. Then toss them with a little bit of cornstarch, Malvone says. It might sound surprising, but the cornstarch absorbs even more moisture and helps form a crust-like outer layer that’ll deliver maximum crispiness. You don’t need much—just a tablespoon per pound of potatoes.

4. Don’t skimp on the fat.

There’s no need to douse your potatoes in oil. But coating them in a thin layer of fat is a must for crisp, crunchy fries. “If you don’t use any oil, the texture will be softer, like a baked potato,” Malvone says. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive or canola oil per pound of potatoes, and toss the potato slices with the oil thoroughly to make sure that every piece is fully coated.

5. Spread them out evenly on the baking sheet.

Arrange potato slices in a single layer so no pieces are overlapping. (If the pieces overlap, use a second baking sheet or bake the potatoes in batches.) Spuds that don’t have enough breathing room will steam instead of crisp up, Malvone explains.

6. Crank up the oven.

Heat—and plenty of it—gets fries crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The magic temperature is 450 Fahrenheit, Malvone says. Just make sure your oven has fully finished preheating before placing the fries inside. The super-high temperature will cause the outside of the fries to start sizzling immediately, sending them on their way to golden brown deliciousness.

7. Flip them halfway through.

Fries are pretty low-maintenance once they’re in the oven. Just bake them for 20 to 25 minutes until they’re crisp and golden on the outside and soft on the inside. And make sure to flip them halfway through. That’ll promote even browning, so your finished fries are crunchy on all sides instead of just on the bottom, says Malvone.

8. Eat them ASAP.

You probably won’t have much trouble here, but make sure to serve your fries hot from the oven (preferably with a sprinkle of sea salt for extra flavor). Just like French fries, oven fries start to lose their crispness as soon as they cool. So hurry up and dig in!