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The Fry Question

Kat has a theory: that French fries (chips, for you Britons) are basically the universal food, something that nobody really dislikes.  Try as I might, I couldn’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t like French fries.  So I put it to you: are you, or do you know, someone who genuinely doesn’t like French fries?  Before you post, consider the following qualifiers:

  • People who don’t like fried foods in general don’t count.  This has to be someone who genuinely dislikes French fries on their own merits (or, I suppose, a percieved lack thereof).
  • A person who is allergic to potatoes, or to any ingredient common to fry preparation, also doesn’t count.  We’re looking for people who are perfectly capable of eating fries, but don’t want to do so.
  • We’re completely ignoring people whose political ideology causes them to be upset with the French right now.

So how about it—are French fries really the universal food, or is there a counterexample?

(Addendum: if you do dislike French fries, please tell us what it is that causes you to dislike them.  Is it taste? Texture?  Smell?  Something else?  Inquiring palates want to know.)

26 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0834
    Heck wrote in to say...

    Well, I do not like them. For a number of years I actually avoided them by all means. I could eat them now (as most food) if I have to, but that’s about it. I am not allergic, have no particular hate for French food at all and I eat other kinds of fried goods, so I guess I honestly qualify as a French fries hater. I hope I’m not the only one.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0902
    Chris Lancaster wrote in to say...

    French Fries, mmm. Now you make me want to go eat some fries for breakfast. Corrupting influence, Mr. Meyer!

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0905
    Linda wrote in to say...

    While I like chips now, when I was young the only kind of potato I would eat was plain boiled. Being Irish I think I was reacting to my mum not providing any other staple. I ate other fried foods & only started on chips in my teens – I think it was a social thing, brought on by many visits to fast food places.

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0922
    Ben wrote in to say...

    It’s worth pointing out that (British) Chips and “French Fries” are very much different things. Chips are much bigger and tend to be soft in the centre, whereas a true French fry will be (as you know) nice and crispy.

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure that when I read all about that ‘freedom fries’ malarky the first time round, someone commented that French fries are actually a Belgian invention…

    (But no, I can’t think of anyone I know who dislikes them off the top of my head)

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0932
    AndyT wrote in to say...

    Well, the Chinese generally don’t like French Fries. Although the younger generation would eat French Fries, most of the older (and current) generation would choose not to.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0936
    Jim Grimmett wrote in to say...

    I like fries, and I like chips. The two are very different things in the UK. Chips are traditionally associated with the Fish ‘n’ Chip emporiums of many seaside towns. Imagine cutting up a potato – any size potato – into four bits and soaking it in hot fat until it’s soggy: that’s a chip. French fries is the name traditionally given to McFries, Burger King fries, etc, etc.

    There is certainly some overlap in the marketing of a plethora of potato based products in the UK and you may find fries that are closer to chips (often called ‘over fries’) and chips that are fairly thin. As with everything there are exceptions.

    I like them all.

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 0945
    Jonathan Stanley wrote in to say...

    AndyT beat me to it, but I’d go further than say “just the Chinese”… it’s pretty much all of those from the Orient that aren’t too fond of French fries, no real surprise since the staple diet for starchy things is mostly rice or wheat.

    Those that do take to them tend to prefer them if they’ve gone a bit soggy in whatever packaging they came in, but that may well have been a quirk on my mother’s side of the family when it came to Western fast food…

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 1147
    Jeremy Hartley wrote in to say...

    I had a girlfriend once who would never eat Fries or Chips. She felt that she really was on the slippery slope when she ate them. But I think she did really like them; she was just anorexic. And I think that is the closest I’ve come to finding somebody that doesn’t like Fries.

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 1224
    chrisp wrote in to say...

    “Well, the Chinese generally don’t like French Fries.”

    Strange that the best chips are often to be had in the local Chinese takeaway. Also, our local Fish and Chip (Four Wents – Borough Green) shop is run by a Chinese family and they produce excellent chips – no affiliation other than being a regular, satisfied customer.

    The best chips are fairly large and cooked quickly in hot vegetable oil, ensuring they are crispy outside and cooked through without absorbing too much oil. And the Belgian idea of serving them with mayonnaise is the way to eat them!

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 1319
    Simon Jessey wrote in to say...

    I think it is interesting that there have been a number of responses by British readers of Meyerweb, myself included (although I am now in Pennsylvania). I totally agree with Kat. Fries (and most potato variations thereof) have become as ubiquitous as televisions and telephones.

    For the record, I prefer chips to fries. There is an interesting story of the humble french fry here, but it fails to mention that the french of french fries is actually from frenched, which means to cut into thin strips before cooking. Anyway, I’m off to McDonalds.

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Mon 17 May 2004
    • 2031
    Root wrote in to say...

    As my wife is French this post has caused an interesting dialogue in our household. The French fry or pommes frites is the classic accompaniment to a very rare steak, a fresh crisp green salad with a drizzle of virgin oil,and a hint of wine vinegar, ideally served with a bottle or two of a medium range burgundy. By contrast the proper British chip in it’s full glory, is generally cut like a doorstep, and served between two stale slices of bread, liberally coated with margarine, drenched in a brown sauce and accompanied by a huge pickled onion.

    • #12
    • Trackback
    • Tue 18 May 2004
    • 0035
    Received from

    Mmmm… French fries…
    In my daily clicking around, I ran into a very thought provking article by Eric Meyer about one of the worlds perfect foods… French Fries. I loooove my french fries. If needs be I may choose fries over the entree at hand (burger, dog, etc). Althou…

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Tue 18 May 2004
    • 0041
    Nathan wrote in to say...

    For some inexplicable reason, my 5 year old son will not eat them. Never has. He LOVES fried food, he’s tried french fries, but just does not like them….now onion rings is another matter altogether!

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Tue 18 May 2004
    • 0356
    Joseph Lindsay wrote in to say...

    I have some friends that own a Fish ‘n’ Chip shop and they cook fantastic chinese food too, but Peter hates chips. He’s Chinese (from Hong Kong) but has been in New Zealand for years and still wont eat them. He does eat some other fried stuff.

    • #15
    • Comment
    • Tue 18 May 2004
    • 0502
    James Noonan wrote in to say...

    I like chips but I really do not like French fries. I’m a potato fan and like them cooked in any style, but I cannot stand those fast food thin fried things. However, I must add the caveat that am I generally an awkward git.

    • #16
    • Trackback
    • Wed 19 May 2004
    • 1119
    Received from Weblog

    Gimme those carbs!
    Is there anyone out there who hates the french fry? And why? I haven’t eaten very many french fries the past couple months because of this controlled-carb thing (Damn you, Dr. Sears!), but if I could, and if they weren’t bad for you, I would beco…

    • #17
    • Comment
    • Wed 19 May 2004
    • 1138
    Kevin wrote in to say...

    There are definitely times when I get craving for french fries. I think it’s the deep frying and the salt.

    • #18
    • Comment
    • Wed 19 May 2004
    • 1829
    Neil wrote in to say...

    This is a little off-topic, but here in Utah (USA), we dip our fries in a substance we call “fry sauce.”

    Fry sauce is essentially, equal parts mayonnaise and ketchup. And I’m telling you, this stuff is the best. Next time you have some fries (and the courage to mix this stuff yourself) give it a try. You’ll never want your fries any other way.

    Read this:

    • #19
    • Comment
    • Wed 19 May 2004
    • 1849
    Tobin wrote in to say...

    Ben: You’re right – when the freedom fries hit the proverbial fan the french embassy “declined comment, except to point out that french fries actually come from Belgium”. On a totally different topic, having lived in Belgium for 5 years, I can tell you Belgian “frites” trounce absolutely anything else on this planet. The trick (I’m told) is that they’re fried before being frozen, then fried again before consumption. Oh how that fat tastes good!

    • #20
    • Comment
    • Fri 21 May 2004
    • 1912
    Greg wrote in to say...

    French fries – generally thin hard crispy and covered in grains of salt
    Attributes – 1. tend to get jammed down between the edges of your teeth and your gums. 2. Have a tendancy to shred the lining of your mouth with the sharp pointy bits at either end.

    Chips – fat with a crispy outer coating and soft in the middle.
    Attributes 1. Easily taken hold of and dunked in [gravy, sauce, butter ……] 2. Generally associated as a British thing. 3. Can be served with a wide variety of other foods. However, again the British thing, usually with fish. 4.

    For those intersted, the perfect chip is prepared in 4 stages.

    Recipe for the perfect chip. Buy late crop potatoes e.g. King Edwards or some other red skinned late potato. Avoid Maris Piper
    Step 1 Peel and cut to your perfered size. (Larger is generally better)
    Step 2 Par boil for 5-10 mins (basically to the point just before the potato/chips become soft.
    Step 3 Chill in cold running water and dry with a cloth.
    Step 4 Place carefully in hot oil and cook until golden brown.
    Ohh forgot Step 5 serve as with your main dish.

    Personally I don’t like French fries or any chip made from an early crop potato. If there is potato dish of almost any other variety available I tend to go for that…..

    • #21
    • Comment
    • Sat 22 May 2004
    • 1042
    Michael wrote in to say...

    How can we talk of potato preparation and not mention hash browns?

    • #22
    • Comment
    • Sat 22 May 2004
    • 1510
    Root wrote in to say...

    There was a typo in my uri of all things. I am enjoying this thread ;)

    • #23
    • Comment
    • Tue 25 May 2004
    • 2353
    Alderete wrote in to say...

    It’s pretty clear that there are not a lot of cooks visiting this blog!

    whereas a true French fry will be (as you know) nice and crispy.

    That sounds like a McDonald’s fry to me, not a true french fry at all. A classical french fry is actually a bit thicker, without being thick. Maybe twice as wide on the two small dimensions. This allows the potato to cook all the way through, and get crispy on the outside, while still being a bit creamy on the inside. Perfection.

    The trick (I’m told) is that they’re fried before being frozen, then fried again before consumption.

    Yes, this’ll do it, but it’s actually both less and more complicated. You need to do three things to make the perfect fry:

    1. Use a high starch potato, like a Russet or Idaho; never use red potatoes for fries!

    2. After cutting them, soak the potatoes in ice cold water for a minimum of 20 minutes.

    3. Fry them twice.

    On the frying, you do it first at a lower temperature (325-350°), until they are cooked through but have not yet gotten any color. Drain them on paper towels or a wire rack, while you heat the oil up a bit more (375-390°). The fry them again, for crispness and color.

    The good news (and how this relates to the above quotation about Belgian frites) is that you can freeze the fries in-between fryings. Just defrost completely before frying the second time, and dry off any condensation (paper towels, wire rack again), or your oil will splatter when you add that water to it.

    • #24
    • Comment
    • Tue 1 Jun 2004
    • 2334
    Eric Bailey wrote in to say...

    I’m not a fan. French fries, and most other “junk foods” are definitely not some of my favourites. I blame mum. She brought me up right. Eat your veggies!

    • #25
    • Comment
    • Fri 24 Jun 2005
    • 2250
    Edward W. Stanley wrote in to say...

    I am allergic to fries but love them still. I give a sneezing fit, just like a beer will or mashed potatotes. I will eat them till the end of me. God bless french fries. They are yummy.

    • #26
    • Comment
    • Sun 19 Feb 2006
    • 1027
    Craig wrote in to say...

    Well I’m from North America but have lived in Thailand for the last 7 years. If there is one thing that I would list as the “most popular” product from the west it would be french fries by a country mile.

    They love them. I’m not talking about Mcdonalds, I’m talking about all the Thai street vendors who sell them in street stalls.

    Yes, it is the younger generation up to about 25 years old who buys them. The old generation is still eating healthy!!!

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