Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Read a French Fry

My friend Brad alerted me to the existence of a certain book by Russ Parsons titled,
How to Read a French Fry: And Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science, which apparently tells you how to well, read a french fry (and other stories). I bought this book for myself in order be eligible for free Amazon shipping (meanies), and after reading it will hopefully have a better understanding of the fries I eat. Here's to science and food!

Hudson Diner in the West Village, NY

The Hudson Diner happened to be open at 11:15 PM (if you've ever been in that area on Hudson Street in the freezing cold, you know that your dining options are limited for a reasonably-priced meal). And the sign says, "Breakfast * Lunch* Dinner * Ice Cream" for goodness sake!
What's not to like?

(See that second plate of fries? They came with my friend's order of Eggs Benedict.
Please don't ask why.)

Well, I must say that the fries were pretty subpar. Most likely frozen, but they did arrive screamingly hot, which I wholeheartedly appreciated. Sort of a harder-than-usual mealy on the inside, crispy on the outside, they were pretty much what I expected. They tasted sort of what I imagine styrofoam to taste like, totally bland. Nevertheless…

Bonus points: My friend and I were the only ones there the Sunday night after Christmas, and they stayed open for us until close to midnight, even though they were scheduled to close shop at 11:30. I'd go back again, not for the fries, but for the friendly staff and comfort of a diner in the middle of New York Nowhere.


Price: $9.10, came with my Garden Burger (also not good, but that's another story)
Portion Size: Small
Texture: Crispy on outside, mealy on the inside

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (a bit greasy)
Seasoning: Completely underseasoned
Fried in: Some salt of vegetable oil

Condiments: ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper

Overall Quality of French Fries: 3.5 out of 10.

 Pacific Coast Brewing Company in Oakland, CA

Please don't even get me started on the disgusting eggplant "sandwich" topped with congealed paremesan cheese that I ordered at the Pacific Coast Brewing Company (the fries came with it. Not sure how much fries are if they are just ordered as a side, it doesn't say on their menu). I have very vivid memories of that eggplant sandwich. 45 percent congealed, shiny cheese, 45 percent bread, and the rest assorted vegetables. To be eaten with a steak knife and a fork.

(*Note congealed atrocity in background)

As for the fries, I cereally didn't think they were so bad. Sure they were most likely frozen, and were over-cooked. And they glistened with an orange hue. But I've had waaaaay worse. My french-fry partner-in-crime for the day deemed them absolutely horrifying. I give them a steady 5.5, if only because they could be easily disguised with salt, pepper, and an occasional dip in ketchup. Not too shabby for a fluorescent orange fry. I realize this rating will baffle some of you, but again, I have had way worse, and for me these were tolerable!

*I should mention that the weirdness of this experience--the cheese, the sandwich, did I mention the cheese, and the poor wait service--was amplified by the fact that the restaurant was filled with people on lunch break from a "Jewelry Convention" going on down the street, and that 99 percent of the diners were older white people (mostly women, and a few husbands who probably wanted to cry). I did see a couple Asian ladies who are apparently into beads and stuff there too. Even weirder, though, was when my companion and I were asked if we were "in town for the Jewelry Convention," which completely baffled me, seeing as I don't perceive either of us as putting out any bead-making vibes.


Price: $11.00 includes gross congealed sandwich

Portion Size: Medium
Texture: A tad hard on outside, soft on inside. A bit overcooked.

Greasiness Level: 3 out of 5 (a bit greasy)
Seasoning: Underseasoned!
Fried in: Some sort of vegetable oil

Condiments: Salt, pepper, mustard, ketchup

Overall Quality of French Fries: 5.5 out of 10.