In Food Rules, Michael Pollan says “The french fry did not become America’s most popular vegetable until industry took over the jobs of washing, peeling, cutting, and frying the potatoes — and cleaning up the mess. If you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they’re so much work…”. I think of his words as Agastya requests garlic fries, the same ones, he insists that my mother, his beloved nani had made for him before Hurricane Sandy. I hadn’t been present.
How do I make French fries and should I really be doing this, I wonder, as my husband confidently claims that he knows how. I put aside my fears of french fries as child food, squelch my anti-McDonald’s sentiments and let him make them from scratch.
It turns out to be simple. Just potatoes, peeled, chopped and deep fried in an inch of very hot oil until they turn a warm gold. There is no garlic powder at home so we smash some fat whole cloves of garlic and fry them in the same hot oil until they look a pale gold too. Dusted with smoky paprika and coarse flakes of kosher salt. Devoured piping hot and immediately. Perhaps not as crispy as McDonald’s fries, but cut to my preferred thickness and much more satisfying.
As for Michael Pollan’s words? Yes, plenty of peeling, chopping, frying and cleaning…but possibly not enough to keep us away from home-made french fries.