Vocab Friday: Frites

So yesterday I told you about our Indonesian-Dutch waiter handing over with much glee his top two places to get fries in Amsterdam. Today I’m going to tell you about the ensuing quest for perfect frites.

But first things first: let’s talk about what exactly you consider a perfect french fry: Thick and hand cut? Thin and crisp? Perhaps the waffled version offered by Chick-fil-A? I myself like my fries fresh – none of this frozen, food coloring yellow crap. I want them to taste like potatoes, and maybe even have bits of skin left on. Then they should be fried to golden perfection, creating crisp edges that yield to delicate fluffy potato inside. They’ve got to be sturdy enough to hold a pile of ketchup or even a dousing of vinegar, but not so crunchy that they scrape the roof of your mouth and not so fat that they’re like swallowing a mouthful of boxed mashed potato mix. And they need to be salty.

Here in Paris, I’ve been disappointed by some pretty terrible specimens– sad, frostbitten yellow twigs that clearly came from Picard. Six years ago. And don’t get me started on the elusive duck fat french fries, which better be coming back this summer or I will personally start sending hate mail to chef Daniel Rose.

So I was pumped to get to Amsterdam and get some real, undeniably good fries. Which brings us back to the quest for frites and our waiter friend, who assured us that he personally taste tested french fry establishments on a regular basis, in addition to keeping up with the latest french fry blogs. Thus we knew we were in good (if not chubby) hands.

His first recommendation?  Vlaams FritesHuis, tucked away at Voetboogstraat 31, off of Heiligeweg (which apparently means “heavenly way”).

Heavenly indeed. The draw of the FritesHuis was supposedly the excellent potato flavor and extensive array of sauces on tap– everything from plain old ketchup to soy sauce mixed with mayo to satay peanut sauce. We opted for plain old ketchup:

The verdict? Pretty delicious, but not salty enough. And I was suspicious of the bright yellow coloring.

But don’t get me wrong– we forked that whole cone down in no time, and proceeded on our way to the next friteshuis. Well, first we actually walked around for a while to digest, then checked out of our hotel, then inexplicably stopped for lunch. Finally on our way to the train station we made it to Damrak 41, location of Manneken Pis, purveyor of purportedly awesome, crispier-style fries.

These were definitely crisper, crunchier, and much saltier. And no crazy sauce options to confuse you. Pretty damn good for what looked like a boardwalk chain. The verdict? I felt like my stomach was going to explode, but still wanted to cram these into my craw. That should tell you something (something like, I’m disgusting, I have a problem, I need to do more salad taste tests…)

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les frites

Pronunciation: ley freet

Definition: French fries! Duh. As in,

“Please baby jesus in velvet pants, give me the chance to savor those glorious duck fat frites at Spring!”

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