Most, if not all, Americans take French fries for granted for many reasons. French fries, after all, are a staple in menu across a wide range of restaurants, from Outback Steakhouse to Shakey’s Pizza. Many of us will gobble down an entire plate of fries in a few minutes without even thinking about where these came from, how these were prepared, and how these can affect your health in the long run.
But that’s okay, too, because we can’t all be like Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta’s characters in Pulp Fiction who became engaged in a lively discussion about the Europeans’ fries-related habits. Still, you may want to ponder a while about the beauty of fries before these end up in your stomach.
A Select Selection
Not every type of potato is suitable for frying in general and for French fries in general. In fact, many fast-food and casual dining restaurants with fries on the menu only use specific types of potatoes from specific regions!
Such attention to detail isn’t surprising since fries are a staple pairing with many quintessential American food including burgers and pancakes. Even the best-tasting burger will be less so if it’s paired with soggy, bland fries.
The best potatoes are starchy potatoes since these hold their shape well and, thus, these can be deep-fried without falling apart. These are also more likely to be substantial so every bite on your fries feels filling, not airy.
Russet potatoes are widely considered as the best starchy potato for fries. Aside from being starchy, these have an oval shape that lends itself well to various sizes, from wedges to standard cuts. The most common russet potatoes used in restaurants are russet Burbank and Idaho russet.
A word about the Idaho russet potatoes. These have a russet skin and white flesh, as well as a neutral flavor that makes it a great blank canvas for the toppings. These also have a creamy and fluffy texture as well as a crispy exterior when fried correctly.
Many restaurants also use Katahdin potatoes. These have smooth skin, a yellowish flesh, and a creamy, soft, and fluffy texture, which are great for fries.
A World of Shapes
French fries come in several different shapes and sizes. But don’t let us get started on the best shape for fries because that topic is a hornet’s nest just waiting to be disturbed. Each person has his or her own idea of what fries should look like, from the beefy wedges to the thin shoestring.
If you were to ask, nonetheless, about the best shape for fries, we have to say that it’s the standard fries and there are plenty of reasons for it. The cut fries are a blank canvas – both starchy and salty – that easily absorbs whatever toppings are placed on them, whether just plain salt or Indian curry.
These are also easier to place in your mouth due to their right size. With potato wedges, you have to open your mouth wide to get as many of them into your mouth. With shoestring potatoes, you’re eating what amounts to toothpicks sticking into your gums.
These are also the shapes that retain their crispy texture far longer than the waffle fries and steak fries. We all agree that fries are the best when these are at their crispiest – soggy fries are no fun, at all.
With that being said, here are the most common shapes for fries.
- Standard-cut fries are the most popular because these are easy to make, easy to put into your mouth, and easy to dress with most of its surface neatly covered by the sauce and/or toppings.
- Potato wedges are the chunkiest cut and, thus, these have a more baked potato look and feel. These should be eaten as soon as these are served because these become soft and limp soon after.
- Waffle fries look really cool and cute with their waffle pattern. Be sure to eat them as soon as these are served, too, if you don’t want soggy fries. While these have a crunchy exterior, it isn’t as much as the standard fries.
- Crinkle cut fries are thick and heavy, as well as cute with their wavy pattern. These are similar to standard cut fries but with the wavy edges.
- Steak fries are thick so every bite means more potato flavor. But these aren’t as crunchy and crispy because of their thickness, unless the cook actually burns them.
- Shoestring fries are the thinnest fries so these are likely the crunchiest of the bunch. But if you’re not into cramming more fries into your mouth just to get enough of the potato flavor and the topping, then these aren’t your best choice.
And let’s not get started on the toppings! Here, the only limit is your imagination so you can go as crazy as you want. Your choices include conventional toppings like melted cheese, eggs, and gravy, as well the quintessential mayo and ketchup blend. You can go crazy with masala sauce, curry, and chili.