How do you like your French fries?

My younger daughter, Alex, is absolutely nuts over French fries. Part of the addiction may have something to do with the fact that she was prohibited from eating French fries — or anything oily — for several years after she was diagnosed with a genetic hyperacidic condition. When she finally got over it, she resumed this passionate love affair with French fries. A case of deprivation, so to speak, led to an addiction. Needless to say, we must have tried the French fries in almost every restaurant we’ve ever been to. If Chinese restaurants have them in their menu, we would have enjoyed them together with our dimsum and Peking duck. french-fries-tender-bobs

Too unhealthy? Well, considering that we eat out at an average of three times per month, I don’t think we’re drowning in French fries.

But this entry is not about Alex’s mania. This is about, well… read on.

It might interest you to know that French fries might not have originated in France but in that part of Europe that eventually became Belgium. There are newspaper accounts of Belgians selling fried potatoes at fairs during the 18th century. Of course, they weren’t known as French fries then. The “French” part came much later. During World War I, British or American soldiers tasted the fried potatoes and, because French was the language spoken in Belgium, called them French fries. You can read all about that in Wikipedia which provides great sources in the footnotes for further reading. I’m not into food history but the “French” part did interest me. I have to say that I experienced some sort of deja vu when I thought about how American Indians came to be called as such after some ignorant explorers thought they had landed in India when, in fact, they reached another part of the world. french-fries-iceberg

Beyond the name, there are French fries and there are French fries. Most people swear that McDonald’s French fries are the best tasting but I beg to differ. I don’t like processed fries. You know, the kind that had been machine-cut, seasoned, treated, frozen then fried in oil. I like my French fries with the potato skins on. Meaning home-cooked only? Well, not really.

There are restaurants that still make French fries from fresh potatoes. Hand-cut and cooked with the skins on. The first photo above was taken at Tender Bob’s (Shangri-La Plaza); the second, at Iceberg (Robinson’s Galleria). There used to be a stall at Cherry’s Supermarket (Marcos Highway, Antipolo) called New Yorker where the fries are hand-cut with the skins on too. Of course, the fries sold at the stall were pre-cut but they still retained the natural flavor of potatoes. That, for me, is the determinative factor. You can enhance the fries with ketchup or mayo, or flavor them with powdered sour cream or cheese, but if I can’t taste the natural flavors of the potatoes, then, they’re just tummy-fillers and nothing to write odes to. I especially do not like French fries that taste like cooking oil.

Why the sudden interest in fried potatoes? It’s not that sudden, actually. It started some time ago when I made Swiss Rosti. I’m reading up on different ways of serving fried potatoes and French fries came up, naturally. Funny that a couple of centuries ago, potatoes were thought to be poisonous. We’ve come a long way, baby, and I’ll be doing a few fried potatoes dishes over the weekend. :)

The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

19 Responses

  1. Hi Ms. Conie! Your posting are all very interesting to me,with all the pictures in it. Very stimulating and it encourage you to cook good food,specially to a mother like me.
    I am in the UAE, me and my older sister used to indulge in Fries from New York Fries! They serve it in all different ways! With beef salsa and sour cream topped with spring onions,also they started serving it with IDLI in India or locally called in PH as tamarind sauce.

  2. Connie says:

    Hi Carla :)

    The objective is to encourage people to cook more and eat out less. :)

    French fries with tamarind sauce sounds very intriguing. I’m really wondering now if salted fries will work with mango chutney too. I’m tempted to try.

  3. peterb says:

    I buy Frenchies from the supermarket.

    I can’t wait for your potato dishes. :)

  4. Jon Limjap says:

    Among the fast foods it’s Wendy’s french fries, bar none. Haven’t noted the fries of non-fastfood restos though… I just ate them. With gusto. :P

    Masarap talaga ang potato skin — kapag baked potato and boiled cherry potatoes sinasama ko talaga yung balat kapag kumakain ako. Hehehe.

  5. zap says:

    I’d prefer hand-cut fries over mutant fast food fries anytime. Better if they’re baked. That burger in the first pic looks absolutely sinful.

  6. Ozi Chris says:

    In Australia, England and other parts of the UK, Ireland and New Zealand we call French fries “chips”. They are served with many dishes especially fried fish (fish and chips) and steak.

    One of the best ways to cook chips is to put them into a deep pan in cold oil/fat, bring them to the boil and fry until they are soft. Remove them from the oil/fat and cool them. Heat the oil to frying temperature and refry the chips until golden brown and crispy.

    Thanks Connie for sharing your great food experiences in Pinoy Cook.

  7. Les says:

    I have a 20months old daughter and she loves to eat. We don’t usually eat fastfood tho coz of the salt content of the foods. Whenever we crave for fries, i usually make it our own. Just wash and cut the potatoes, i often use yukon gold. Blanch in a very hot water for like 20 secs and put the potatoes in in baking pan w/ olive oil and baked in convection 400C oven . After 20 mins potatoes are usually done and very crispy.

  8. Didi says:

    Hi Connie! Ako I personally LOVE french fries! Actually – anything potato!! :) The best fries I’ve tasted are from abroad – I don’t know why but I love the fries of McDo in the US, Hk and in Bkk!! :) Has it something to do with the oils that they use?

  9. soloops says:

    I have yet to meet kid who doesn’t love french fries.

    True, the ones with the skin on are more flavorful.

    I recall that my friend in California was so shocked to find out during a trip to the market that her kids didn’t know that fries are made of from potatoes or anything that is grown. She was so incensed that her children didn’t have any connection to the land, so to speak.

  10. Connie says:

    peterb, one down hehehe sarap!!!

    jon, oh i love baked potatoes too — with lotsa cheese.

    tender bob’s, zap, hehehe the patties are sold frozen at Shopwise Libis (a tip fro my Code Red editor).

    Ozi Chris, now that you mention it, fish ‘n’ chips is in my line-up for September hehehehe But not wrapped in newspaper ha.

    Les, I saw a recipe of the dish you described recently but using butter. Am gonna try that too. Alex will just love that. I bought lots of large potatoes for all the potato cooking.

    Didi, one site says McDo uses cottonseed oil.

    Soloops, hala, what’s that — an affinity for everything artificial? Scary thought.

  11. janice says:

    have you tried french fries at don henrico’s? i swear by the taste of oil in them! parang rancid na tuloy ang lasa though theirs may be not the processed tagal na ganun ang lasa ng fries nila di kaya may nag-complain na? oh well..sayang naman pag di nila baguhin o kaya palitan man lang ang mantika…

  12. kulasa says:

    The Belgian fries are great! They actually deep fry them twice. The outside remains crunchy while the inside is just soft. Matagal pa siyang malutong. Tried it here but couldn’t get it right. Probably had to to with the potatoes, the oil, o baka pati humidity (parang baking ba?). Iba talaga ang lasa, o baka naman gutom lang ako noon.

  13. Lisa says:

    Here’s how I do my fries, skin-on (procedure works with skinless, too):

    Cut to size, dunk them in a bowl of water, drain, refrigerate or freeze for an hour, deep fry.

    The dunking in a bowl of water is to make the skin lift off a bit. The chilling is designed to make the outside crunchy and the inside soft.

    It’s ok to bake the potatoes, too, instead of frying them, but it’s still better to brush them with oil. Just a bit of salt to bring out the flavor, and lots of pepper.

  14. Connie says:

    Lisa, draining is enough? No need to dry them in paper towels?

  15. Kongkong622 says:

    Mojos from Shakey’s are the best fries on the planet. With Ceasar Dip, nakow! Pero, fries ba ang tawag sa mojos? They’re not cut like fries but they are fried potatoes. So?

  16. brenda says:

    i love McDonald’s french fries.

    sometimes I get my fries from the supermarket, yung Frenchies…

  17. dhayL says:

    ms. connie,

    I’m not sure if New York Fries ( had invaded manila stream as yet. I’m actually surprised to learn that they are fully Canadian, I thought it must be another american fancy again,hehehe. They serve poutine, which is hand cut fries, skin on, topped with white cheese curds, then smotthered with dark brown gravy! Really good and satisfying! Their fries alone are good if you aske me, although they have malt vinegar, cajun and california seasonings and ofcourse the plain old salt and pepper combo available for you as well! Harveys and Wendys also serves poutine up here, they’re basically available everywhere, I remember having poutine for lunch in our school cafeteria back then. But if you can’t get your hands on new york fries as yet, i mean you can always make them at home for your daughters and the whole family to enjoy!

    Hope that helps!

  18. jeff says:

    i love fries and burgers… what resto did u order that burger in the 1st picture?

  19. Connie says:

    dhayL, YES! This what the stall at Cherry’s Supermarket that I mentioned in the entry. The unmistakable black and white tub!

    jeff, at Tender Bob’s, Shangri-La.