The infallible and highly sought after French fry!  You may be flummoxed to learn about the misnomer revolving around this golden, crispy wonder, an age-old conflict raging between the Belgians and the French.  They both want accreditation in the parentage of the fry.

Belgium maintains they gave birth to this fried spud in the 1600’s, when the peasants deep-fried small fish obtained from the river Meuse and when the river froze in winter, they survived on fried potatoes.  Arguably, pommes frites were sold along the Pont Neuf in Paris, on street carts in the 1780’s.  And possibly for lack of a better excuse, the French for now own the title, since the appellation French Fried Potatoes is in the annals of history and it’s not going to change anytime soon.  However, the Belgians haven’t thrown in the towel.  They are the first to have a French Fry Museum and have appealed to UNESCO to have the fried morsels named as their National dish.  Who knew?

In America the credit goes to Thomas Jefferson, who inaugurated fries making them the institution they are today.   We even have National French Fry day on July 13!  Jefferson, was a true foodie in his day and on his sojourn as American Minister in Paris from 1794-89 he became captivated with French cuisine.  So much so, he amassed over 150 French recipes and had his slave, James Hemming instructed in the culinary arts so he could reproduce his favored dishes upon his return from the Continent.  Out of that repertoire sprung forth the revered vanilla ice cream, macaroni and cheese and the universal French fry.  However they didn’t really become in-vogue in America until the 1900’s.

The Brits venerate their fish and chips as they do their Queen; in France a juicy steak cannot leave the kitchen without them (steak frites) and in Belgium they accompany the ever-present Mussels (Moules et Frites).   Indubitably the Canucks have made quick work of their Poutine, as it’s become Canada’s National dish; fries mounded with cheese curds and smothered in brown gravy!  Don’t cringe at the thought, here we slap chili even on tater tots, so there isn’t much of a difference.

Germany and Belgium dunk their fries in mayo; the French use copious amounts of mustard; the Brits sprinkle malt vinegar.  In South East Asia you better use some sweet chili sauce and here where would our fries be without good ol’ Ketchup?

I will admit that fries are my kryptonite – don’t try to stealthily steal one or you will lose a finger.  If I wasn’t into food porn and so discerning in my kitchen, fine dining could be categorized as a bottle of Petrus and a mounded platter (bucketful doesn’t sound chic paired with Petrus) of decadent, crispy fries with a creamy side of aioli.

We don’t need another reason to cringe about the “Freedom from Frying Era”, so I recently discovered this remarkable recipe for Oven Baked Fries, that are so stupendous you will roll your eyes with a loud sigh of orgasmic pleasure.  The trick is to heat up a cookie sheet in a 500F degree oven for a good 5 minutes to create the desired crisp.















1 LB Potatoes – peeled and cut into ½” match sticks

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

5 TBSP olive oil

1 TSP of chopped fresh rosemary

1/8 TSP Aleppo pepper

½ TSP smoked Spanish sweet paprika (Pimentón Dulce)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Freshly grated parmesan


Toss the potatoes with all the ingredients (excluding the rosemary as it burns easily in the oven) making sure they are generously coated with the oil and seasonings.  Heat up a cookie sheet at 500F on the bottom rack for about 7 minutes until it is very hot.

Spread the potatoes in a single layer on top of the cookie sheet and bake them, tossing after 13 minutes.  Lower the temp to about 450, sprinkle the rosemary on top, tossing again and bake an additional 10 minutes until golden brown and crispy.  Test for seasonings and serve hot with sprinkled parm and a drizzle of truffle oil.

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