As much as my Dad probably wishes that potatoes come from China, he does recognize the potato’s origin in South America. And if the potato shows up in any recognizable format on the dinner table, he always likes to test us. He asks us “Do you know where the potato comes from?” and we have to answer “Ireland,” because I just can’t imagine how disappointed he would be if he couldn’t lean back in his chair putting his hands behind his head, and sucking in a long, deep breath through his teeth before he goes into “See, Ireland is the common belief of so many people, but potatoes actually come from…” And even though he has asked this of us at least 450 times, he’s a brilliant Enlightener, dispelling some great myth for us every time, for the very first time. I’m sure he loves it, so even though I know I know I know at least 449 times over where potatoes really come from, I still always answer with…Ireland.
Potatoes on our dinner table were usually braised in soy sauce with carrots and beef shortribs as part of galbee jjim, maybe a baked potato if we were having steak, and often in linguine with white clam sauce (Potatoes in our seafood pasta? Yeah, don’t ask.) Rarely did we ever have French fries and even if ever we kids were that lucky, they were from McBurger’s. I’m sure it just seemed to Mom like way too much effort to deep fry French fries at home. But it’s surprising that Dad didn’t try harder to get us to eat who-rench who-ries, sometimes prench pries, just to train our Korean tongues to say “f,” and twice at that!
A stroll through the farmers’ market reveals lots of teeny tiny, beautifully creamy, colorful varieties of potatoes, but the best potato for making French fries is big, fat, blotchy brown and quite boring. I leave the potato’s history to Dad and the science of why Idaho russet to food nerds like Alton Bown. Probably something to do with starch molecules, but don’t ask me. I had to take organic chemistry twice at Cal. And only passed the second time by the skin of my teeth. *phew!*
I love how debates about French fry thin/thick-ness rages on. From the lightly delicate crispness of shoestrings, to the fast-food standard quarter inch, to the soft, meaty wedges that accompany a Kansas City filet. It’s a deep-focking-fried potato for fox ache! They all taste good, and you know you’re going to eat any French fry that is placed in front of you. But cooking at home, I do whatever is easiest for me to cut by hand, and that’s between a quarter and a half inch thick. And I swear I’m not lazy – for some reason, leaving the skins on makes French fries seem healthier. Uh, right.
It seems like a bit of trouble, but according to almost every recipe I’ve seen, French fries should be fried twice. The first blistering bath at 325 degrees cooks the potatoes through. Then at higher 375, the outside gets crisp and tan. Simple salt and Heinz ketchup will always be classic, and I’m never one to toy with tradition, but garlic and crushed red pepper sure looks nice in the picture! *chuckle* Good thing it tastes good, too.
It’s (ab) crunch time before the “w” thing now *raising fist into air*, so that’s the last of frying I’m going to do for the next three weeks. *sigh* Thanks to Linda from At Our Table for hosting IMBB no 18 – Summer’s Flying, Let’s Get Frying! Gosh, I really hope the next IMBB is on…salads? ;)