Culinary no-no began on Father’s Day 2007, a beautiful summer day, when I wrote about grilling brats. And eating brats. And topping those brats. I was inspired by my wife, Jennifer who, in my admittedly unscientific opinion, ruins brats by squirting ketchup on them. Other dining taboos quickly came to mind. The original idea was to take this concept only a few months, till the end of summer and then pull the plug. Then the unexpected happened. People started reading Culinary no-no. Lots of folks. So we keep doing the no-no.
Wait a minute? Is that right?
570 Culinary no-no segments?
Can’t believe it.
I also can’t believe that I haven’t written about today’s no-no years ago, that it’s taken this long.
This week we turn our attention to…
It just so happens National French Fry Day is this Fryday, I mean Friday, July 13, but that’s just a coincidence and is not why fries are the topic this week.
French fries originated in Belgium. During World War I, American soldiers stationed there ate them for the first time. Because the official language of the Belgian army was French, voilà, the American soldiers began to call the fried potatoes French fries.
Here’s a great question. Who makes the best French fries? The Daily Meal took on the challenge this past March. How did they describe the perfect fry?
There’s the crunchiness element, for sure — that crisp exterior texture that isn’t greasy or soggy, achieved through a perfectly-timed fry (or two, and sometimes even three) in fat that’s just the right temperature. Then, the soft, fluffy interior, filled with potato that’s cooked through but not dried out or raw-tasting. The color also comes into play — the best fries have that mouthwatering golden-brown hue.
The Daily Meal first examined fries from several hundred restaurants across the country and finally narrowed their choices down to the 50 best restaurants for fries in America.
Note, these are not chains like McDonald’s.
The #1 spot?
Bathazar in NYC topped the list.
And what about those massive chains?
A couple of my local favorites:
The Point After Sports Pub and Grille right here in Franklin.
Add up every single French fry place mentioned thus and the total is 62. And I’m willing to bet I would love each and every one of them.
But there’s a major problem with all of them, too. And it’s not their fault. Unfortunately it’s just the way it is.
None of those fries, none would reheat well. Just not possible.
Warning: Do Not Ever, Ever Use Your Microwave
The problem is most likely the microwave. Due to the vagaries and unevenness of most microwaves, reheating fries usually results in a soggy, limp mass and/or burnt ends. The oil ends up tasting rancid, too. No wonder those leftover fries usually end up in the trash.
Reheating French fries tends to work best with restaurant-quality fries and within a day or two of their original creation. We’ve experimented with reheating fast-food fries, and those don’t hold up well to reheating in any form unless you’re doing it the same day you bought them.
My guess is that the oil in fast food joints isn’t terribly high quality when giant batches of fries and who knows what else are being cooked in them.
We’ve never had luck with leftover fries no matter where we got them. I don’t think there’s a microwave, oven, or stove in the world that can perform what should be a rather simple fix, but instead requires something close to miraculous. Microwaves have been around since 1945.
Now it’s 2018, and a new food trend has complicated matters.
The NY Times just wrote about Lamb Weston. Founded in 1950 as a small family business, it’s now one of the world’s leading suppliers of frozen potato products.
From the Times:
Its customers, like McDonald’s and Yum Brands, the owner of KFC, are increasingly teaming up with on-demand delivery services. But travel is brutal for French fries, especially when they’re squeezed next to a cold drink and a warm burger in a paper bag.
“If you put a French fry next to a shake, neither of them benefit,” said Deb Dihel, Lamb Weston’s vice president of innovation.
In March Lamb Weston announced what it called “a solution for fries that arrive hot and crispy via home delivery – new Crispy on Delivery is a comprehensive solution that goes from store to door. Crispy on Delivery combines the right product, packaging and back of house expertise to provide customers with crispy fries that don’t disappoint.”
The company claimed Crispy on Delivery fries maintain heat and crispiness for thirty minutes, while traditional fries start to lose their appeal after only five minutes.”
The bar has been set even higher. The New York Times reports Lamb Weston wants to preserve crispness for 60 minutes.
If successful that would be a dramatic transformation from a no-no to a yes-yes.
CULINARY NO-NO BONUSES
Ketchup was the subject of our first Culinary no-no. CBS News just reported on the popular condiment.