I’ve devoted a lot of time in this column to discussing my love-hate relationship with cookies. And although they will always have a place in my heart (the first cut is the deepest, after all) I have also been opening my eyes to other always-there-for-me foods. Despite so many contenders—pizza, instant mac and cheese, powdered doughnuts—only one food really stands up as a viable competitor to cookies: french fries. I know what you’re thinking, “French fries, how pedestrian!” And to that I say two things: You’ve been at Columbia too long, and no, no, they are not. For french fries, my dear readers, go far beyond the deliciously artificial McDonald’s fare. Oh, you golden slivers of goodness, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Crinkle fries. I think a big part of the dining experience is texture; it’s why I love the creaminess of a good chocolate bar and why I think cotton candy is like a sugary sock. The ruffled ridges of crinkle fries hold ketchup better than anything and transport me to back porch barbecues in St. Louis when I was a kid. No homemade cheeseburger is complete without them. They are like a little massage for your tongue, which makes them sound kind of creepy, but it’s actually awesome. I haven’t quite figured out the technique of actually making my own, but there’s always Ore-Ida when push comes to shove.
Next at bat is sweet potato fries. They are particularly wonderful because of their versatility and simplicity. You just slice up some yams, throw some spices on ’em, bake for a while (an apparent eternity) and voilà—sweet and savory goodness. I like them with salt, pepper, and a little paprika, but they would also be wonderful with some brown sugar and cinnamon. They’re like individually-portioned, no-mess, easy little sweet potato pies for lazy people. And although the ones at Amir’s are pretty delish, they are the perfect DIY fry because you don’t have to worry about hot burning oil splashing in your face. Plus, they’re loaded with antioxidants. (“I’m not eating junk food, I’m keeping my body young!” she says one entire tray later.)
Although there are many other fry-tergories, I have chosen for my final selection the holy grail: the foodie’s french fry, truffle fries. Typically served with Parmesan, parsley, and some sort of splendidly fancy garlic aioli, truffle fries are actually everything. Try the loaded fries at Amsterdam Tavern; they will change your life. I don’t even know what was on them because they disappeared in 27 seconds. Toast also has some pretty delicious truffle fries, as did Campo (*tear*). They soak up your feelings in a much classier fashion than other fries.
Writing about fries makes me really hungry. It also makes me realize two very important facts. First of all, I could totally write an entire book about french fries. There are so many questions: Why are they called french fries? Why are most curly fries just mildly wavy? The possibilities for scholarly fry inquiry are endless. And second, I need to thank the potato. Mother of mashed potatoes, potatoes au gratin, and many more, the accomplished tuber is owed credit where credit is due. Thank you, potato, for giving way to the irrefutable best sandwich/burger/everything accompaniment.
Krista White is a Columbia College senior majoring in theater. Noshing on the Big Apple runs alternate Fridays.