Welcome to Food Court, a new Sporkful series where members of our team face off on eating’s biggest questions--and you’re the judge.
Today we put the humble, all-American French fry on the stand. Sporkful staffers Elite Truong and Talia Ralph attended Fries of New York, where some of New York’s best chefs offered their interpretations of French fries---from duck-fat fries to the potato souffle (fluffy, football-shaped fries) to the tornado fry (a whole, spiral-cut, deep-fried potato).
After the event, Elite and Talia got together (over fries, of course) to debate the best shape of this starchy snack.
Elite: So, Talia, what’s your favorite kind of French fry, and why?
Talia: If I had to pick a favorite shape of French fry, based on gut reaction, it would be the waffle fry. For me, it’s a very nostalgic fry. There’s something about coming in from exercise in the freezing cold and eating piping hot food (say, at a picnic-style ski chalet table), especially when that hot food is freshly fried, crispy waffle fries with that generic Old Bay-Cajun seasoning hybrid.
And because of their high surface-area-to-volume ratio (SATVOR), waffle fries also have a huge structural advantage: they absorb flavors and hold condiments really well, making them the perfect vehicle for flavor add-ons. I love it when salt or mustard or parmesan finds its way into the little waffle windows.
Elite: And I love that you come in from exercising and treat yourself to waffle fries!
When I was a kid, fries were banned in my house, so of course I became a French fry fiend, savoring them whenever I finally got some. If I couldn’t have fries, then I went out of my way to eat other starchy treats: hash browns, home fries, potato gratin.
That probably led to my current habit of treating myself (way too often) to crinkle-cut fries, which are my favorite fry. They have perfectly crunchy nooks and crannies that hold salt and seasoning. And I love the way you can pack them together, like crispy, edible Tetris pieces.
Unfortunately, I think it’s difficult to find good waffle fries. They’re often soggy or greasy, due to undercooking or the steam container conundrum. But when you find good ones, I agree they’re an ideal vehicle for flavor.
Talia: That’s true. Really, all fries are best eaten piping hot. When you pack them and try to transport them, they wilt like precious potato-y flowers.
In my experience, restaurant fries are far superior to homemade fries. What do you think, Elite?
Elite: That is undeniably true: restaurant fries reign supreme. Home-style substitutes for frying just don’t cut it. Oven fries are really just hot, sliced potatoes, after all. Fries are a snack best left to professionals with the training and equipment to execute the art of deep frying. Long live the fry cook!
Eaters, how do you rule? What’s the best shape of fry---waffle, crinkle, or another? And perhaps more importantly, why? Have you tried and failed or succeeded wildly at frying fries at home? Comment below or tweet to @TheSporkful to render your verdict.
Photos of "Fries of New York" courtesy of Mother New York, shot by Josh Engmann