The origin of French fries and who gets to take credit is richly debated between the eponymous French and the Belgians. In a darkened embassy conference room, accusations of gastronomic hegemony and peasant diet scholarship have been hurled about over sweating flutes of Veuve Clicquot. Quite simply, no one knows who is responsible for these tasty-fried potato prisms, but I do know that there are many responsible for the various defilements of this storied spud.
Not since Samwise Gamgee has anyone had so many thoughts about taters, so let’s grab a mandolin and slice away the competition for the French fry throne.
potato wedges: These giant abominations commit the cardinal sin. Too much soft creaminess swallowing up that shell of crisp crunchiness. Proportions are everything, and I didn’t order mashed potatoes.
What these potato boats are good for is scooping up small oceans of sauce. Use only when your sense of hedonism outweighs your will to live.
shoestring fries: Also called allumette-cut fried potatoes, “allumette” likely being French for “unbearably tiny fried nest of potato hairs that I must sadly pick up by the handful in my giant, over-sized fingers so that I feel like I’m two wheezing palpitations away from gout.” Or pick them up painstakingly one at a time while you develop carpal tunnel and death’s soundless wings slowly close over you. Either way, it ends the same.
curly fries: I’m going to anger tens of people with this testimony, but I stand by it. Arby’s curly fries are beloved. Unseasoned non-Arby’s curly fries are unloved. Ipso facto, shape has nothing to do with it and everything to do with Arby’s special seasonings.
Let’s also agree that Arby’s curly fries are overrated. Solid, but overrated. When’s the last time you actually stepped inside an Arby’s? I can barely comment on a business plan that relies on people getting excited about the minute differences between various forms of roast beef sandwich.
poutine: Canada’s second crime against humanity after Justin Bieber. I just ate 5,000 calories of oil-steeped complex carbohydrates, so I decided I needed an extra helping of shame and regret?
waffle-cut fries: A waffle, which is a type of breakfast food and thus, not an actual fry.
zucchini fries: Amazing, but not French fries. (Editor’s Note: I did not include sweet potato fries as they are both a dessert and insidious.)
classic French fries: The one true fry is the sort of spud you can find at any McDonald’s or diner counter. The reason for this is simple: a Golden Ratio of proportions without any of the gaufrette gimmickry. Perfectly balanced and easy to eat. Like a classic suit, this one always stays delicious.
Eat with any mayo-derived aioli* or, if accompanied by seafood, with tartar and malt vinegar. Ketchup is for plebeians.
* Another pointless and time-wasting food debate: What’s the difference between a mayo and an aioli?