a subjective study of the french fry (and recipe for “comeback sauce”)

The perfect French fry. Everyone has an opinion.

I love starches. Sweets have a special place in my heart, but my first love were salty carbs. My mom would try and shut us up with McDonald’s when we were kids, so I’ll argue its all nostalgia. Truth of the matter is french fries are everyone’s comfort food, at least in the South.

Back to French fries. My study of the French fry can be broken down into two, essentially three types.

The first type is the substantial skin-on variety that has found favor among more gabbys-french-fries-002artisan fast food joints. These are from my lunch at Five Guys today. There are extremely similar versions served at Gyrene Burger here in Knoxville and Martin’s BBQ in Nashville. The virtue of this type of fry is that is has a large ratio of surface to interior, allowing the surface to get crispy while the interior remains creamy. This, to me, is the epitome of what a French fry should be. It takes a bit of effort to make this kind of French fry. Most of the time they are hand-cut. You can almost count them as healthy since there is a goodly amount of potato skin still on the fries. Almost.

Then there is the more typical fast food fry. These are from McDonald’s. They are, inexplicably, serving oatmeal at McDonald’s now, which I predict will be a snow-day-korean-pork-french-fries-002monumental failure. Nobody goes to McDonald’s for oatmeal. McDonald’s fries are terrific. Less surface to interior ratio, but they are always served hot with lots of salt. And a small serving only has 210 calories so you don’t have to feel too bad about eating them. Unless they’re accompanied by a Big Mac, which they always are in my case. Less successful attempts at this kind of fry can be seen at Burger King and Arby’s. At the absolute bottom of my fry study are the waffle fries at my beloved Chick-Fil-A. They are not fries. They are not even slightly greasy, which a good fry should be. And, if they are not served extremely hot, they are inedible.

A third type of fry was just emerging not too long ago, but thankfully look like they’re gabbys-french-fries-004here to stay. The sweet potato fry. My friend, Jessica, considers
the sweet potato fry a vegetable and, therefore, virtuous to consume. They are very good, but I am more of a savory person than a sweet person so my personal preference veers toward the traditional spud. Sweet potato fries also have the advantage of universally being hand made.

 Of course, all of this means nothing. It’s subjective. Somebody out there obviously loves waffle fries, because they’re still on Chick-fil-A’s menu. Some people, like me, seek out the crispy bits at the bottom of a plate of fries. You know, those bits that stayed in the oil just a tad too long?

And what to dip them in? Ketchup, mayonnaise and sour cream come to mind. But my absolutely favorite lubrication for the French fry is Comeback Sauce (recipe to follow), invented in Mississippi and impossible to resist. That’s how it got its name. You always come back for more.

Homemade Comeback Sauce

you’ll need:

1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Duke’s)

1/4  cup ketchup

1/4 cup chili sauce  ( I prefer Heinz or DelMonte. DO NOT substitute Thai Chili Sauce)

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup light olive oil

juice of one lemon

how to:

Mix all ingredients well and store in refrigerator overnight.  It needs to sit to let the flavors become “acquainted”. They shouldn’t rush into marriage.


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