The humble potato. Cultivated in the America’s around 10,000 years ago, then brought to Europe in the 16th century by the Spanish. One of the most versatile foods available. Can be served boiled, roasted, mashed, or as is the case here, as French Fries.
In these fair isles we more commonly refer to them as chips, rather that the Yankee ‘fries’. This evidently dates back to 1769 and actually referred to fruit chips. To further confuse the matter, our American brethren, call crisps, chips.
They can be crisp, or soft, indeed the British traditionally eat them soggy with vinegar and wrapped in old newspaper.
The Variety Of Potato We Use
The idaho Russet Burbank is commonly used by fast food chains. Developed by Luther Burbank, a plant breeder. Initially unpopular, growers cottoned on to the fact that it produced large potatoes that could be marketed as baking potatoes. Then the explosion of fast food chains further increased its use.
The Best Fries Are Fried Twice
The potato is cut into strips. Traditionally it was peeled first, but now is often enjoyed unpeeled as this retains beneficial vitamins. Soaking in water removes the surface starch. Missing this step will result in a soggy, mushy chip due to the starch blocking the evaporation of moisture from the vegetable.
The best results are obtained using the two bath method. First they are blanched by being submerged in hot fat at 160C. Then briefly fried in hotter fat at 190C, to crisp them. They are drained ,salted and served.
Vegetable oil is used for frying, though originally beef suet or as one fabulous chip shop in Yorkshire still uses, beef dripping. Indeed if you are ever in the vicinity of Sturgate airfield it is well worth a visit. In fact, you can fly into Sturgate airstrip and visit the chippie.
Five Guys just had to be different, they fry theirs in peanut oil.
French Fries Might Not Be French
The French, Belgians and Spanish all claim the invention of French Fries. Though no one really knows the truth. The French claim is that they originated from street vendors in the vicinity of the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris.
The Spanish were the first to bring them into Europe so claim they also invented chips.
And the Belgian claim is that they are quite close to France and people confused their invention with a French one. In fact, they are so upset by France claiming them, that they have petitioned UNESCO to claim official heritage status for ‘their’ dish of fries and mayo.
Thomas Jefferson Introduced Them To America
President Jefferson worked abroad as American Minister to France. Whilst their he sampled the delights of the culinary masterpiece. When he returned home and became President, his chef James Hemings continued to cook them for him.
A Typical American Eats 30 Pounds A Year In Fries
Think about that. That’s the weight of a small child. Your gonna need a hell of a lot of ketchup to go with that. Look guys we all love fries, but 30lb seriously?
Charles Dickens Wrote About Fries
Yup, one of history’s most celebrated authors actually alluded to fries in his novel, ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’. He called them husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil. TBF he also wrote about dozens of breakfast foods, dinners and pints of beer. Turns out he was a bit of a foodie at heart.
Fries Are Little Kids Favourite Vegetables.
A study by the Journal of Nutrition found they were the most commonly consumed vegetable for young children. A published study by the way. I mean, you needed to waste ink and paper to discover this, come on guys. A Sunderland fan who wasn’t in possession of the communal brain cell could have told you this without wasting energy on research.
They Are Actually Healthier Than You Think
No, we aren’t saying they are healthy compared to say a salad or something. But being a potato, they actually include vitamins B6,C, magnesium and iron. So they do have some nutritional benefits.
Congress Changed The Name To Freedom Fries.
When the operation to invade Iraq was being planned. France refused to join in. Probably on account of not being allowed to be in charge.
Jed Babbin, a former deputy undersecretary of defense stated that going to war without the French, would be like going hunting without an accordian. You are just leaving a lot of noisy useless baggage behind!
To further underscore their displeasure. Congress changed the name on their in house menu’s to freedom fries, and dropped the French from the name. They would have liked to have rolled this change out across the States, but as the war fell out of favour, so did the name.
It was quietly changed back in 2006.
Burn Those Calories Baby
A medium portion of McDonalds French fries would require 47 minutes of high impact aerobics or 58 minutes of cycling to burn off. One ‘professor’ suggested that a proper portion of fries should be around six. Really, just six fries, just goes to prove what planet professors are living on.
For the 224 calories you are consuming you could also have 1.4kg of celery, 385g of apples, 588g of broccoli, 102g of canned tuna or 3 boiled eggs or a 51g piece of cheese.
Nah, we’ll stick with the fries.
Thick Or Thin
Traditional British ‘chips’ or what some called steak cut fries are actually a healthier option compared to the skinny fries typical of a fast food joint. The greater the surface area of a chip, the more oil is absorbed. So weight for weight, skinny fries have much greater surface area, therefore they will be higher in calories and fat.
Fries Aren’t Just Fries
There are actually something like about 18 different types of fries. From the thick cut steak chips, to curly fries, tornado fries, waffle fries and more.
Some People Put Sugar On Their Fries
Different nationalities eat their fries in different ways. In Vietnam they sprinkle them with sugar. The Belgians and Dutch slather mayo on. Americans love their Ketchup. The South Korean’s add honey and butter (really).
Personally we think nothing beats good old salt and vinegar.
Fries Have Been Tested For Use In Space
E.S.A., the European Space Agency teamed up with Greek researchers to test making fries in a centrifuge. What they discovered was that as gravity increases, the fries get crisper. In fact perfect fries would need gravity three times that of Earth.
Sadly the microgravity found in space means they would be a soggy mess, so no fries on that trip to Mars unfortunately.
Freedom Fries https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_fries