Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Would You Like Fries With That?

Time has forced me to come clean.  I am hopelessly addicted to french fries.  Yes, the same person who loves martinis and city dining has a weakness.  You're going to find out sooner or later.

I had my regular annual physical the other day, and all the cholesterol and fat numbers look okay, but deep down, I know that I eat too many french fries.  It's not anything intentional, but rather a habit.  My wife says that she saves up her fries allotment for places that really prepare them well, but I cannot claim such purity; rather, I am trashy when it comes to pommes frites.  I don't exhibit good behavior around them.  And apparently, neither do many other people -- according to a recent study, the average American eats about sixteen pounds of french fries per year.

As an example of how bad I can be about this, my friend Tanya and I sat down yesterday to have lunch at Taco Mac, one of our favorite local establishments.  Since neither of us figured that we needed "all the calories", we decided to split a burger.  Let me just say that up until this point, our intentions had been very good.  However, I ordered a small basket of fries, because as I said, I'm bad like that.  When the order arrived, not only did we each have half a burger and this shared basket of fries, but fries had also been added to each plate.  If each fry had represented a person, we would have had the population of Shanghai between us.  But did we complain?  I think not.

Here in the United States, we are generally offered fries as an accompaniment to (sometimes) otherwise healthy meals.  A chicken caesar salad wrap, say, will come with fries on the side.  Yes, you have the right idea with the salad thing, but the fries take you over the top.  I have a tiny bit of willpower when it comes to fries, but I will admit to none when it comes to fries from any of the following establishments:
  • McDonald's
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Bojangles
Let us examine each of these in turn.

McDonald's is arguably the king of french fry production and consumption worldwide.  I believe that the pairing of a Quarter Pounder or a Big Mac with Mickey D's golden russet fries is probably a divine inspiration.  People have been known to lose their minds over a craving for McD's french fries.  I once knew a girl who would quite literally go into spasms unless they could be produced for her on demand.  Otherwise sensible people wax prosaic about the fries and become violent unless their craving can be satisfied.  I have seen this happen, although I will not divulge any names.  Some of them are probably reading this blog entry.

Chick-fil-A produces an exquisite form of waffle fries, which are typically models of crispy perfection.  Yes, you may opt for the grilled chicken over the fried chicken, but nine times out of ten, I'll bet you choose the waffle fries as your "side".  Come on, let's face it, they're not a "side", they're the core of the meal.  And Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, which gives the entire chain a validation of sorts.

The seasoned french fries of Bojangles, a regional chain quite popular in the Carolinas, are remarkable in that they contain trace amounts of addictive narcotic substances, or so it seems.  Bojangles' fries are sliced into beautiful, svelte hunks of potato, then sprinkled with a seasoning that is so good it can be bought online.  Bojangles is the perfect accompaniment to a day at Myrtle Beach, an ideal companion to beer drinking while watching people dance to beach music.

A few years ago, I went on a serious diet, and I was forced to forego fries for many fortnights.  After a time, I found that I could substitute other foods without too much anxiety, so I know that going fryless is possible.  I did learn from my diet that compensation is in order when fries are consumed -- if I've had a heavy meal with fries at lunch, I'll typically have a light dinner, sometimes even a salad.  But I find that within a few days, I'm craving fries. 

I need to get better about this.  The first step is admitting you have a problem.  I have a problem.  :)