The Year Without French Fries

Regular fries from 500 Degrees, Philadelphia

I’m a big fan of personal challenges. I don’t always stick to them, but I like the idea of exercising some self-control, to push yourself, etc.

That’s why, for all of 2012, I gave up french fries, like one super-sized Lent sacrifice. Of all of the foods in my diet, fries were by far the worst for me…well, except for all the carbs I regularly consume, but at least most of those aren’t doused in oil.

My problem with fries was two-fold:

  1. They’re everywhere! Whenever we went out to eat, fries were the automatic side, and it was getting to the point where I was eating fries a half-dozen times a week. Granted, this could be a product of the types of restaurants we eat at and the meals I order (mostly sandwiches), but still, a non-fried vegetable option would be appreciated.
  2. I can’t control myself. If you’re ever seen me at a buffet, or even at a party with a decent spread, you know I just keep stuffing my face until I pass out. I have no discipline to eat “just enough”; if it’s in front of me, I’m going to eat it…and your leftovers, too.
Fries from Whole Foods Market, Plymouth Meeting, PA

So that’s why fries had to go, or at least why I had to try. By excising an unhealthy food from my diet, I hoped to be healthier, and maybe lose a little bit of my starch-pudge in the process (this unfortunately did not happen.)

2012 came and went, and I didn’t have a single french fry all year…I even spit one out onto our kitchen floor when I realized I’d starting munching on one absentmindedly (classy, that’s me). Home fries and hash browns, at least mentally, were not included in this ban since I rarely eat a breakfast more complicated than a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

Regular order of fries at Spot Burger, Philadelphia

As of midnight on January 1, however, the fry ban was lifted, and I vowed to be more selective in my fry consumption. No more Burger King fries “just ’cause”! If I was going to blow the calories on them, I might as well get the best possible.

My first dip back into the world of fries came from 500 Degrees, a burger joint here in Philly that is really quite good, and fries are made to order. These were cooked until they were all shades of gold and brown, but…they weren’t that satisfying. After the quick sense-memory overload after my first bite, I was left a little wanting.

The second fry trial of 2013 came from the burger and fries bar at the Whole Foods in Plymouth Meeting. This is by far the nicest Whole Foods I’ve ever been in, mostly due to the fact that they rock their own bar and several different prepared food sections, including a brick-oven pizza, a barbecue station, a “world foods” station, and so on. These fries, whenever Lance ordered them, always smelled so temptingly delicious, so I couldn’t wait to try them.

…And yet again, while aesthetically pleasing, after the first handful or so, I was already kind of bored. What was wrong with these fries?

Then came my last foray into fries (so far) for 2013: the Spot Burger stand in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia. Don’t get me wrong: I love Spot Burger and think they rock what is by far the best burger I’ve ever had, and whenever my co-workers added a side of made-to-order fries in the past, I got so jealous. And it’s not to say that these fries aren’t good–they’re nicely seasoned with a perfect amount of salt, and fried just enough to be crispy without being soggy, but…

…I think I’ve lost my appetite for french fries.

They used to satisfy some deeper, fatty craving. But after going cold turkey on them for a year, these fries–not just any old Ore Ida fries, but good fries–just don’t meet that “yum yum fried starchy goodness” need in the same way.

And maybe that’s because that need’s no longer there.