Thursday, July 2, 2020

You say potato; I say we're good to go

But does anybody know what English fried potatoes might be like?
When I was a teenager, I thought it would be cool to be a writer for a big magazine. And when I got older, I was fortunate enough to find myself on staff at Canada's most recognizable publication, Chatelaine.

And it was indeed great. Here's why.

Chatelaine was located in a downtown Toronto office building at the corner of College and Bay streets. (My nephew and Godson Hugh Carter once commented that everybody around there must have great lips, and I was like "Huh?" Hugh responded: "Colagen Bay!"... ladies and gentlemen? My nephew.)

Anyway, Chatelaine was on the eighth floor of 777 Bay and down in the basement of the building was a very diversified  and substantial food court.

One of my favourite things to do was go to a certain French fry joint in that food court and order "a large fry."

The fries that that chip stand produced were like the fries that came off the chip trucks I grew up with in Northern Ontario. Sometimes, the Northern Ontario chip trucks were  buses, but never mind that. They had all been, at some point, vehicles.

The best was in a village called Sturgeon Falls, which was about 60 miles east of my hometown of Sudbury.

Lucky for me, my bilingual sister Mary attended a French boarding school in Sturgeon and inasmuch as I love Mary to pieces, what I remember most about the times Dad drove us to visit was sometimes, he'd stop at a chip truck not far from Mary's school so we got some of those deeply oily, salty, crispy French fried potatoes, covered with ketchup, salt and vinegar.

If I thought long and hard or if I phoned Mary and asked, I'm sure we could come up with the name of that chip joint but that's not the point of this story.
HERE'S THE SCOOP: You are allowed to
make a whole meal of fries and nothing else. 

What I'm getting at is, the fries from the place downstairs Chatelaine were almost the same high-quality product as the Sturgeon Falls fries. Perfectly crispy and maybe just a tad singed on the outside yet soft but not mooshy on the inside. The best ones had potato peel still stuck on.

I would swear in court: Chip truck fries are nature's most perfect food.

But back to the Chatelaine building. Plus I just remembered something.

One time, after the chef  handed me my cup of fries, I walked to the ketchup dispenser. It was one of those complicated affairs with the pump thing that you push like a plunger on top and the ketchup comes out of a long curved skinny spout. I held my fries under the spout, pushed the plunger and the equivalent of two drops came out. I did it again--nothing. The guy waiting behind me said, and this true, "somebody upstairs must be using the ketchup."

Clearly his house had the same plumbing as every place I've ever lived.

So after I bought my chips, I'd  go back to the Chatelaine office where all my health-conscious colleagues were, and hear them, one by one, say exactly this: "Oh those fries. They're like s-o-o-o-o-o bad for you. And they smell so good."

I would say "want one?" And 100 times out of 100 times, my colleague said, "Oh I shouldn't. But okay maybe one. Or two."

That's why it was so great working at a big fancy magazine.

Of course the reason I'm telling you all this is that during this weird time (there's something going around) a lot of people have embraced fulfilling projects, like physical fitness and sourdough.

We here at Pete's Blog&Grille have taken to making French fries from scratch. And we've nailed it.

Best thing is, should editing ever dry up, I'm pretty sure I know where I can get a bus.

1 comment:

  1. Frank Zappa once claimed in song that the prince of foods was...the muffin.
    But as you so rightly claim, nature's most perfect food was/is chip truck fries.
    Deep fried, heavily salted gout sticks......mmmhmm !!