I'll have a burger and some of those yellow oily things.
November 3, 2013 5:10 AM   Subscribe

The complexities of French Fries. We have the secret history, most outrageous, and the best. Now we've taken all the fries and put them in a fry museum, the newly opened Frietmuseum." Everything you've ever wanted to know about the fry."
posted by Xurando (46 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Frietmuseum isn't really very new. If you're in Brugges, it's worth a look - as much for its cheesiness as its frietiness.

(I have the t-shirt. Seriously.)

Yeah, I suppose I'm 'that guy'. Again.
posted by pompomtom at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then again, if you find yourself in Brugge as a tourist its either because you've missed your exit to Ghent from the A10 really really hard or because you're just a damn fool who doesn't know enough to wish you were in Ghent.

If any of you guys find yourselves in Leuven send me a memail and I'll show you our little fry museum in a shitty frietkot, the some of the best frituur in the world in a better frietkot, and where to get the good beer.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:50 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oy, Brugge is a perfectly pleasant town to spent one or two days in, it's just a lot smaller than Gent. It got some decent pubs, a couple of breweries, loads of chocolate and one or two half decent bookstores.

Plus, you know, the usual amount of glorious medieval and Flemish renaissance buildings.

It has also always been friggin cold every time I've been there, so dress appropriately.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:58 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you think a Frietmuseum is a weird idea, perhaps you want to stay away from Tokyo's Tobacco and Salt Museum (closed until Spring 2015, I see).

But, seriously, fries are a really simple, basic food that seems very difficult to do well. For every decent fry I've had in my life, I have had dozens that were soggy, limp, greasy, bland, undercooked, burned.... It's infuriating. And, guys, drenching a plate of undercooked fries in truffle oil does not make them fancy; it just makes them gross.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:00 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I WANT TO GO TO THERE
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:17 AM on November 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


If I grew up on a farm, Bruges might impress me, but I didn't, so it doesn't.
posted by orme at 6:26 AM on November 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


In which Kenji López-Alt works out how to make McDonald's-style fries at home. (Or you could skip straight to the recipe. But you shouldn't, 'cause the narrative is fun.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:34 AM on November 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


If I grew up on a farm, Bruges might impress me, but I didn't, so it doesn't.

It's a fairytale town, isn't it? How's a fairytale town not somebody's fucking thing?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:44 AM on November 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


Kenji's food labs are usually pretty great, and the fries one is no exception. The only problem is that, for the best fries, you basically have to deep-fry two nights in a row, and I'm not sure the oil keeps overnight, even if you keep it in a covered dutch oven.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:47 AM on November 3, 2013


I've been to Bruges. Smuggest bloody pile of recreated medieval kitsch on the planet.

Two things did please me. There was a chocolate shop immediately over some sort of canal that smelled strongly of sewerage, and I actually found some graffiti. Which I will reproduce for you below:

"Postie, postie, don't be slow. Take a gram and go, go, go."

Now you don't have to go to Bruges.
posted by Devonian at 7:09 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


In other oily yellow thing news, for those who haven't tried the new BK Satisfries, I'm here to report that, for a product with 30% less fat and 20% fewer calories than regular BK fries, they're not as bad as I thought they'd be. I suppose that's damning with faint praise, but if you order your burgers dry, or stick to chicken or fish sandwiches, Satisfries might be just the thing for you.
posted by paulsc at 8:09 AM on November 3, 2013


I'm not sure the oil keeps overnight, even if you keep it in a covered dutch oven.

Oil keeps for a long time. Fries would cost a lot more if restaurants had to throw out all their oil every day.
posted by ssg at 8:13 AM on November 3, 2013


I'm not sure the oil keeps overnight

If you're throwing out your deep fryer oil every day, you're going to waste a lot of oil.
posted by bradf at 8:14 AM on November 3, 2013


you mean chips. carry on
posted by billiebee at 8:37 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


No, chips would be those round crispy chip like things. Fries are different. And always better in the USA like our beer and weed. We win.
posted by lordaych at 8:41 AM on November 3, 2013


(Ducks)

The thing is, potatoes need time. McDonald's fries them twice as part of their demonic ritual but you can do it right the first time if the potatoes are dry enough. The first time I had In-n-Out burger the fries were terrible and I read reviews supporting my opinion afterward. They were like dying curled up worms. It was the lunch rush. Months later I'm back in Cali and gave them two nights to win me back. The first night everything was flawless and I had edible cannabis on board which skewed my perspective so I tried again and this time I waited til eating before delving into the ridiculous pile of wax this guy just gave me for being a righteous bro. Again flawless. It was later at night, 10pm. Fried to a perfect crisp. I'm a fan of pan fried potatoes for breakfast and time is the tincture motherfuckers.
posted by lordaych at 8:45 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


lordaych I think you just posted the stoner comment of the day

for reals maaan
posted by Doleful Creature at 8:56 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This has to be planned correctly. You get your burgers at In-n-Out, and then you go a block or two and get your fries and shakes at McDonalds.

Has anyone tried the cold-fry method that Cooks Illustrated came out with recently (potatoes fried once, and in oil that is brought up to the boil with the fries in)?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:03 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Then again, if you find yourself in Brugge as a tourist its either because you've missed your exit...

bloody hell you live in a country with multiple french fry museums and if your only answer is not "hooray, this means more french fries" i have no idea what to think about you.
posted by ardgedee at 9:13 AM on November 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also the only American fast food franchise french fries that are worth a shitdamn are Five Guys. Anything else is tasteless, mealy pabulum*. Their burgers are okay, as fast food burgers go; their fries are not the best I've had, but they're better, and more reliably so, than most.

*(McDonald's fries, instead, taste of sugar and artificial flavoring. Still better than Burger King et al, but only as the least of many bland evils.)
posted by ardgedee at 9:17 AM on November 3, 2013


I've been to Bruges, and I thought it was charming, thoroughly enjoyed my stay and hope to return some day.

A couple days later, we visited a friend in Utrecht, and while he tried to act positive, you could tell that he thought we were total rubes for visiting Bruges and total philistines for then enjoying it.

I guess it akin to people who come to Boston getting excited about things that I think are pedestrian and touristy. But as a tourist, I loved Bruges and I REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE!

(tip: People in the Low Countries like interpersonal conflict about as much as Canadians do, so that last sentence should put an end to this disgusting Bruges-bashing!)
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:19 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, chips would be those round crispy chip like things.
We call the crispy things "crisps". We are, like, so weird!!

And always better in the USA like our beer and weed. We win.
I must introduce you to my cat.
posted by billiebee at 9:19 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Having read López-Aut's paean to McDonalds French fries, I got a feeling that was half-craving, half-curiosity. I hadn't eaten McDonald's anything in years and had no recollection of their fries being anything special, but I was excited for the possibility they indeed were a rare occurrence of in industrial food-substance being a truly great example of the form. So went down the street to the nearest McDonalds and got some fries, and they were completely underwhelming. They didn't suck per se, but they were limper, soggier, mealier, and blander than many fries I have eaten. I almost want to go somewhere that I am confident has good fries just to counteract that feeling of disappointment.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:35 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Always better like US beer? Ahahaha. Ahahahahahahaha. (wipes eyes). And chocolate too I suppose.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:42 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And always better in the USA

The couple of times I have been to the UK have ruined me for American french fries. Not only are chips ubiquitous in British dining establishments, they are uniformly so superior to our french fries that when I got home after my last trip, I couldn't bear to eat fries for a couple of months. I have never been to Belgium, but I can only imagine the wonderfulness of real Belgian frites.
posted by briank at 9:51 AM on November 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also the only American fast food franchise french fries that are worth a shitdamn are Five Guys. Anything else is tasteless, mealy pabulum*

Whiskey's for drinking. French fries are for fighting over.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:07 AM on November 3, 2013


They didn't suck per se, but they were limper, soggier, mealier, and blander than many fries I have eaten.

Actually, sometimes that happens at McDonald's, and it's really a bummer. I don't know if the oil has cooled off from too many batches in a row, or if someone pulled the batch too early to make up a few drive-thru seconds, but it's always a disappointment when they don't match the McD standard.

Or you just might not like their fries, which is fine, but I agree with Kenji that they're something special when done right.
posted by scrowdid at 10:11 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


In Gent you have robots playing music and making their human slaves dance naked. Also candy noses. But no fries - fries have been banned in Gent for centuries.

(Only one of these things is a lie!)
posted by moonmilk at 10:16 AM on November 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


When we traveled to Belgium, we rented a house in Koolkerke, a little suburb of Brugge. We loved it so much. The rental included bikes so we spent most of our time biking around town and into Brugge. On most of these rides the bike lanes were part of the sidewalk which made us kind of giddy.

We walked by the Friet Museum, but, for some reason, we never went in. We did, however, encounter this creepy* statue at the friet place down the street from our rental in Koolkerke.

*Why would he cannibalize himself while watching in a mirror? Why???
posted by eunoia at 10:25 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


UK Chips being better than fries? Man, I must have been eating at some pretty crappy chippies between Edinburgh and London but they started crisp then were a soft, soggy texture within minutes. The first time I thought it was the establishment and then I realized it was a thing when it seemed to repeat itself in both chipperies and sit down establishments. Yes, I hit Borough Market too, if you are wondering and anything else Time Out London said were the best chippies to be had.

However, the friteries that I had in Amsterdam run by Belgians was superlative. I occasionally dream of those frites.
posted by jadepearl at 10:41 AM on November 3, 2013


Things I have learned so far in this thread:

People sure do like fightin' over fries

And boy do they hate Bruges.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:04 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, Brugge is basically the Canterbury of Belgium; totally uninteresting to anybody but tourists, somewhat of a shitheap to live in but still bloody smug about itself and its history.

And it's not so much fighting about patat as it is that there seem to be a lot of people who need a nicely quiet padded room to check themselves into if they think any fast food chain fries can even come close to being decent, let alone the best fries.

Oh and those Belgian places in Amsterdam? Totally overrated. I've made better myself.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:11 AM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Previously.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:41 AM on November 3, 2013


No, chips would be those round crispy chip like things.
We call the crispy things "crisps". We are, like, so weird!!


Where I come from we call those round crispy things chips and those long rectangular things also chips (or, more commonly, hot chips). Which just seems to make sense to me really. Of course, there are probably arguments to be had that we really call them all 'chups'.

I spent a day in Brugge and enjoyed it just fine. We walked around and looked at things, took a boat ride and looked at more things, climbed a church tower and looked down on things, and I think we ate some chocolate. There were lots of things to look at and it was a lovely sunny day for doing so, then after five or six hours or so we were done and got on a train to somewhere else. It seems like a fine town to enjoy for an afternoon although I don't know if I'd go back just for one museum we missed (even though I do love chips). But then the best frites I've had were in Lille so maybe I'm weird too.
posted by shelleycat at 12:10 PM on November 3, 2013


Plenty of alcoves in Bruges.
posted by Omission at 12:17 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been to Bruges. Smuggest bloody pile of recreated medieval kitsch on the planet. Someone hasn't been to Rothenberg ob der Taube...
posted by Omission at 12:18 PM on November 3, 2013


ardgedee: "bloody hell you live in a country with multiple french fry museums and if your only answer is not "hooray, this means more french fries" i have no idea what to think about you."

As much as I love the fries, and much more so the other frituur that comes with it for the wise who order it, there are better reasons to live in Belgium - like health insurance.

What has really struck me most about living in Belgium is just the absence of fear here. No one fears the cops (aside from maybe the very hard left who work very hard at trying to need to), no one fears being unable to afford healthcare, no one I know fears their boss, no one fears for their next meal, everyone is more bemused at their government(s) than afraid of it, no one fears being unable to afford a pregnancy or a kid, and even the fear of failing that undergrads and masters students have is fundamentally different from the fear I knew back home being more reasoned and a hell of a lot less desperate.

I get to work next to a fucking castle on its ancient grounds, free health insurance, almost a months vacation to do whatever the fuck I want and get paid, cool and expensive science toys to play with, and I get to live in a country with more kinds of beer than my liver could conceivably process in the four years of my PhD, a frietkot on every corner where I can get deep fried steak as well as the package of delicious fries the size of my head for a couple euro, a functional social welfare system, and a government where you really can assume laughably absurd incompetence rather than malice when shit goes wrong. Maybe its that I've gotten to experience the darker side of the American dream skewing my perspective, but its like I tripped across the Atlantic and landed on my ass in heaven.

So yeah, I'm happy to slag off(Am I using this right?) on Brugge for the shell of a fake town maintained exclusively for mostly foreign tourists who don't know better that it is because there is so much more that is so much more awesome about Belgium - and Flanders specifically. The way to become an instant friend of someone from Ghent or Brugge is to call the other town less authentic, but those from Ghent are actually right. Scratch the surface of Brugge and without the kitchy veneer all you have is a dead depressed town that young people flee from. Scratch the surface of Ghent however and you will find better beer pubs, better jenever pubs, people who actually live there and do things other than dress up for tourists, a place that was once the capital of the world, has awesome traditions that date back centuries, has living culture bursting with creative energy, an international city with interesting people from around the world, architecture that is both more historic and more meaningful as well as better preserved, and the Gentse feesten that is so ridiculously awesome for everyone who doesn't have to live in Ghent during it.

I'm also totally serious about showing y'all the awesomeness of Belgium if you stop by. I'll be happy to show you to the gay bar the prime minister goes to, or the old bar with the most beers in the world, or the new bar that will soon have the most beers in the world, or genuinely traditional frituur with ox fat and thick cut fries.

But don't ask me to take you to Brugge
posted by Blasdelb at 1:50 PM on November 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


So yeah, I'm happy to slag off (Am I using this right?) on Brugge

Nearly :)

You have sold me on Belgium and when I visit I will insist on being taken for the best fries/friets/chips you know. You have been warned.
posted by billiebee at 2:29 PM on November 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snuffer's in Dallas ends all arguments...
posted by shockingbluamp at 2:37 PM on November 3, 2013


Oh my, this thread feels like a little Low Lands lovefest.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:46 PM on November 3, 2013


Plenty of alcoves in Bruges.

You use this word? 'Alcoves?'
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:53 AM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I visited Belgium a few times in 2001-04 and visited Ghent, Leuven (each time, for work) and Bruges. I liked them all, but the day I visited Bruges was the sunniest, so it remains the sunniest in my memory. I wouldn't want to live there, but I'd happily go back and eat pralines and friets there, seeing as I come from a part of the world where "the usual amount of glorious medieval and Flemish renaissance buildings" is zero.

For all you grumpy lowlanders, try In Bruges. I suspect you'd enjoy it.

(I'm assuming it didn't attract much attention in Belgium itself, but on second thoughts I may well be wrong about that. Did it? If so, how was it received?)
posted by rory at 6:01 AM on November 4, 2013


Yeah, I don't know why people go to Disneyland when they could be smoking crack and banging hookers a couple of blocks away on Beach Blvd. That's the authentic Anaheim, man.

Those Del Taco fries are shit though, stay away from them.
posted by malocchio at 7:40 AM on November 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If its hookers and crack that floats your boat, just wander around Brussel Nord where there is a shockingly large red light district and the cops don't give a shit.

I'm also told that in Brugge the cops will treat your pot like its krokodil, seriously, Brugge even sucks at being a shitty town.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:17 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


More places need to have sweet potato fries. Mmmmm, sweet potato fries.... *gurgle*
posted by entropicamericana at 3:22 PM on November 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I fell in love with sweet potato fries on a trip to New York. (I eat them with loads of tomato sauce - ketchup, if you must - is that wrong? Although if it is I don't wanna be right.) I've actually made them for the first time this week! I can't get them right yet though. Must make some more. Just, y'know, for the practice...
posted by billiebee at 3:40 PM on November 4, 2013


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