National Potato Chips Day (USA)

Boulogne-Sur Mer Moules et Frites

“Everything (in the UK) comes with chips, which are French fries. You put vinegar on them.  Cookies are biscuits and potato chips are crisps” – Scott Walters

March 14th in the USA is Potato Chips Day which I confess makes me smirk because in the USA they don’t even know what a potato chip is so I am going to take a look at how people prefer to eat their chips and watch out because I am going to award points for style.

I posted previously on eating fried potatoes in a Friterie in Northern France so it is only really polite to start with our nearest continental neighbours.

Friteries are a feature of this part of northern Europe and are a simple place, usually outside on wooden benches, to buy and eat French fries accompanied by a selection of traditional sauces and accompaniments.  The thin strips of potato are fried twice, first to drive out the moisture and second to achieve the essential golden crispness of the French Fry.

You might expect the French, along with close neighbours the Belgians and the Dutch to know a thing or two about chips and they do make a good job of cooking them it has to be grudgingly said but as soon as they are served up they demonstrate a dreadful lack of culinary style and taste.

French Fries with Mayonnaise

They immediately apply a dollop of horribly sloppy mayonnaise!

Now mayonnaise is fine on lettuce leaves or as an ingredient in a McDonalds burger, it gives them a bit of taste after all, but it really shouldn’t be smeared all over a helping of lovingly prepared  potato chips and I am reminded here about a scene from the film Pulp Fiction and a conversation between Jules and Vincent…

… “Do you know what they put on their French Fries in Holland instead of Ketchup?”  – “What? “ – “Mayonnaise” – “No Way.” – “Yes, I’ve seen them do it man they f*****g drown them in that s**t.”

Marks out of 10 for the French and the Belgians and the Dutch – 6 and that includes a bonus point because (as you can see in the first picture) at least they call them chips!

However, if you think that is bad then let’s cross the River Rhine into Germany where they serve up a variation called pommes rot-weis (potatoes red and white) named rather unimaginatively it is said after the colour scheme on level-crossing barriers and this toxic combination is achieved by smothering the poor chips in not just the evil mayonnaise but a good slug of tomato ketchup for good measure which has the effect of turning the classic dish into a sort of Salvador Dali gastro-interpretation.

I don’t know about the colour of level crossing barriers more like the rags and blood of a barbers pole if you ask me.

Marks out of 10 for the Germans – 4.

pommesrotweissgal

As I mentioned in my previous post Spain makes a creditable claim to be origin of chips so let’s head south now across the Pyrenees into Iberia.

Spain has patatas aioli which is a mayonnaise with garlic and having already dismissed mayonnaise as inappropriate then the addition of the foul tasting noxious onion bulb is not going to improve it one taste bud notch in my opinion; and then there is patatas bravas with a spicy sauce whose ingredients vary from region to region.

Generally I am a big fan of Spanish Tapas but my recommendation would have to be to avoid the patatas bravas at all costs.

patatas-bravas

I have two issues with them. First of all they don’t even look like chips and instead of being long and slender they are served in solid lumps of fried potato and secondly the bravas sauce is often so fierce that it completely spoils the dish all together and you can add to that the fact that it frequently (depending on region) includes a whole host of odd ingredients such as chorizo, baked chicken or fried fish, none of which in my opinion should be anywhere near a sauce for simple chips –  if you want to muck about with vegetables then stick to pumpkins.

Marks out of 10 for the Spanish – 3.

Hastily retreating to the United Kingdom I am first going to head north to Scotland despite the fact that Scots deep fry chocolate so cannot really be taken seriously in a cooking sense.  In Glasgow and Edinburgh they have a fondness for gravy with chips and I find that odd because in my culinary opinion gravy should only really be served up with the weekly Sunday roast.

smiffy-s

Having said that it is really rather tasty so marks out of 10 for the Scots – 7.

Which brings me back rather neatly to England and especially my home town, the fishing port of Grimsby.  They know a thing or two about chips in Grimsby let me tell you and there is a chip shop in every street – sometimes two and people there know best how to cook them and to eat them.

grimsby-fish-and-chips

Never mind the fancy restaurant trend for twice or even thrice fried potatoes they just cut them up and sling them in a vat of boiling fat or preferably beef dripping and then serve them piping hot and crispy on the outside with delicate fluffy middles with the only two accompaniments that chips really need – a generous sprinkle of salt and lashings of good vinegar.  No mayonnaise, no gravy, no tomato sauce and definitely no curry!

chips

Marks out of 10 for the English – 10 – of course.

So what about the USA you might ask.  Well to be honest I have dismissed the New World completely.  Is that fair?  Challenge me if you dare!

Whilst I am prepared to concede that they know how to prepare French Fries in McDonalds and other similar places the bottom line is simply this – they don’t even know what chips are, they think they come in a foil packet.   Americans please take note – these are not potato chips they are potato crisps!

Potato Chips (Crisps)

My research informs me that in Australia they cannot make their minds up whether they are potato crisps or potato chips.  Let me help my antipodean pals on this point – these are potato crisps!

Anyway marks out of 10 for the USA – 0.  This might seem a little harsh but the rules are that you have got to compare apples with apples!

So let’s finally go north to Canada

“in Eastern Canada there is poutine with curds of cheese and gravy. None for me thanks but there people are gaga for the stuff”…

My blogging pal Sue from “Travel Tales of Life”

Graphic content warning – do not proceed beyond this point if you have a weak stomach or are of a nervous disposition…

…because this is Poutine from Canada…

Poutine

When I first heard of this I was convinced that it was some sort of wind-up, but apparently not, you can even get it in McDonalds, but thankfully only in Canada…

McDonalds Poutine

Try eating that in your car without making a mess of your shirt and trousers while you are driving.

Marks out of 10 for Canada – minus 10

Anyway, enough of all this, let me tell you my favourite.  In this picture taken in France my mum has gone for the tomato ketchup option and is wagging her fry around to prove it.  Alan has kept things simple and luckily is not wagging his fry at anyone, my brother Richard, who has a bit of a reputation for wagging his fry, has gone for the classic salt and vinegar combo and although I am not in the picture (obviously I was taking it) you can clearly see my preferred accompaniment is a bottle of cold beer – just don’t mistake it for the vinegar and pour it over the chips!

So, over to you, How Do You Eat Yours, what is your favourite accompaniment?

Wissant Friterie France

More About Chips, Crisps or Fries (and Bananas)

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40 responses to “National Potato Chips Day (USA)

  1. We used to be able to get such good fish and chips (with salt and vinegar), wrapped in newspaper, in Adelaide, South Australia. Those days are long gone.

    I’ve tried that poutine stuff … ugh.

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  2. Minus 10!? I demand a recount. 🙂 In all honesty I didn’t eat poutine until I was an adult. It’s an eastern Canadian fave and I didn’t even know about it in my teens. I don’t actually like it myself. I shall have to get to the UK asap apparently!

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  3. We bought the most divine order of chips a couple of weeks back in Australia’s seaside town of Ulladulla. Served with a sprayer of vinegar on the side. I think you’d have given it 10/10. I’d post a pic of them here if I could.

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  4. I really enjoyed this Andrew! Here in Aus we usually go for the tomato sauce but I agree salt is best of all, not sure about lashings of vinegar, maybe just a tad!

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  5. Sigh, such an attitude about US French Fries. 🙂 You have missed out on the variety of fries we have-something for all tastes. There are regular fries (the thin one) and steak fries (much wider, a bit of a slab of potato) and curly fries (curly fries) and pan fries sometimes called home fries (fried in a pan) and sweet potato fries (they are orange) and crinkle cut fries and shoestring fries (very thin) and waffle fries and fries with the potato skins left on. And then for dipping there is of course ketchup but don’t forget the chili and cheese and other ways to smother a fry. And I know it sounds odd but some people dip their fries in ranch dressing. And we fry so many other things, like cheese, dill pickles, jalapenos, zucchini, and even kale. 🙂 Oh, interesting. I didn’t realize you fried your fries twice.

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  6. Somehow I just knew Grimsby would win. And you’re quite right of course, In French ‘les frites’ are chips and it’s also a nickname for the Belgians. ‘Les’ chips are crisps and in my time as a French teacher I only had to explain that 14,358 times. The kids seemed to catch on really quickly.

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  7. Sadly our village chip shop has become a Chinese take away. The chips are simply not the same but at least they’re still just about edible. Apologies, but I will not be referring them to this blog in case it gives them the wrong sort of ideas.

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  8. You’ve obviously never tried poutine, I see. It’s delicious.

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  9. Mayo, ketchup, curry sauce…. love all of these with chips (not at the same time though!!). My Scottish ancestry must be coming through though because my top pick would be gravy. My husband understands this not one bit, he is firmly in agreement with you and it’s a beer every time.

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  10. I think I would like fried potatoes in any of those countries.

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  11. When I lived and worked in England I did develop a fondness for vinegar on my FRENCH FRIES but here in the States I use ketchup. If I have fish and chips here (chips, not crisps) I put vinegar on all of it. Here I eat potato chips from a bag though some restaurants are getting good and making their own. When in England I’m content that fries are chips and chips are crisps. One just needs to learn the language.

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    • I have never liked ketchup on chips but am quite partial to a dollop of brown sauce. A great way to eat chips is with a fried egg. A runny yolk makes a perfect accompaniment.

      Cooking bacon seems to be another culinary item that we are unable to agree upon!

      Thanks for your contribution.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Here in Wales, some of us like mint sauce on our chips, Andrew. It’s not only for putting on roast lamb. 😀

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  13. Usually, I don’t eat potato at all, but the best fried potato in my life, I ate in Riga, Latvia, in the cheap restaurant of Lido. It was something… I couldn’t stop.

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  14. My partner pours vinegar on his fish and chips, but I only pour it on the fish. Vinegar on the chips makes them far too soggy for my taste. I generally do with just a bit of salt. Ketchup these days has far too much sugar. That German version with the dollop of mayo and ketchup would be what’s served here quite often, but it’s mixed together… utterly unappetizing. There is so much variation in the sort of chips one gets at different establishments, that it doesn’t seem fair to judge an entire country by it.

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