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The politics of french fries

My love of all things political has been a part of me as long as I remember. It matured while a Grade 13 student under the tutelage of an awesome Canadian history teacher – and further developed through involvement in university political groups, municipal level committees and finally as a municipal councillor and as a federal candidate.

One of the things I liked most about my political life was that I was able to meet and speak with a wide variety of people with a wide variety of views on things… many of which I did not share but nonetheless respected.  The best singular time in my life in this respect was while I was the proud owner and operator of a french fry truck.

Yes, I was the “Fry Guy”!

french fries_Full

It was the perfect occupation for a guy like me. I cooked a food that I love for a living (well, it was a meagre living and only lasted a year… but hey, I like to remember the good times) and, due to the nature of the biz, I yacked and yacked and yacked with my customers about everything from weaknesses in the theory that human beings behave rationally from an economic perspective to what was the perfect window cleaner (vinegar). Loved that short period in my life. And I still make a damn mean fry!

So, when I see articles about french fries, I have a professional interest. While trolling Fox News in search of some comic relief, I came across this article on the seacrh for the perfect french fry potato. “Perfect” meaning “willingness to be used by Scrawny Ronnie’s.

Here are some facts that I found of interest:

  • In 2007 total world production of potatoes was more than 320 million tonnes, and about 2/3 were consumed by people as food. The other 1/3 is used as animal feed, and as potato starch in pharmaceuticals, textiles, adhesives, and in the wood & paper industries, etc.
  • MacDonald’s buys more than 3.4 billion pounds of U.S. potatoes annually
  • The company still relies on the Russet Burbank for many of its fries, even though this 130-year-old variety takes an eternity to mature, gulps water and falls victim to rots and other diseases, meaning farmers must douse it in chemicals.
  • Coming up with a reliable new variety takes years. The Premier Russet emerged from the breeder’s greenhouse in the early 1990s, but wasn’t released for commercial growers until 2006. Along the way, it underwent storage trials at facilities near the tiny farming town of Kimberly.
  • At the McDonald’s campus in Oak Brook, Illinois, perfume-wearing intruders are shooed from tasting rooms, to prevent contamination of french fries samples randomly pulled from restaurants around America for monthly scrutiny by representatives of the company’s three main suppliers: J.R. Simplot Co. of Boise, Canada’s McCain Foods Ltd., and Omaha-based Con-Agra Foods Inc.

As well, one of the earliest references we have to British ‘chips’ (French Fries in the U.S.) is in Charles Dicken’s ‘Tale of Two Cities’ (1859): “husky chips of potatoes, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.”


My idea of the perfect fry? Par-fired twice at a temperature no lower than 475 F – in good quality canola oil. Finish with 4-5 minutes more in the frier. Top with salt and malt.



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  1. trashee says:

    Sorry FA! At least I didn’t post something about that most famous of the heart-attack-in-a-box diet – POUTINE!
    Hey XUP – In my limited experience with Belgians, they don’t have much of a sense of humour. Besides, they DO get credit for their waffles! That much make up for it a little bit!

  2. XUP says:

    I did a post on potatoes a while back and discovered French Fries were actually invented in Belgium. Seems some clever Flem was sad that he couldn’t have his usual meal of fried and salted smelts in the winter months because the lakes were too frozen or something, so he cut up some potatoes in the shape of little smelts and fried and salted them. Some British navy dudes ate some of these fried potatoes when they were in Belgium once and, since the people there spoke French, the Brits dubbed them “French Fried Potatoes”. The people of Belgium are still really ticked off that they never get credit for this delicacy. True Story

  3. Fat Arse says:

    It’s posts like this that get my mouth watering & compel me to abandon my failing and nascent diet! Deep fried with gravy on the side … ahhh, … Uh oh, I feel a calorie crazed relapse coming on!

    Thanks a lot! Can just imagine the look I’m gonna get from my wife in about 1/2 and hour when she smells the chips cooking in the middle of the night and I tell her her it’s some dude named Trashy’s fault!

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