Debate Time! The best type of french fry is...
Happy National French Fry Day, an extremely important (read: made up) day in our country's storied history. To honor the occasion, it's time to offer up our opinions on a question that can tear friendships apart: What is the best kind of french fry? Below, four SI Staffers make their individual cases for curly, shoestring, steak and poutine. (Sorry, waffle fries). Be sure to vote for your favorite.
Curly fries are the Porsche of french fry types
Trying to pick the best type of french fry is like trying to pick the best color Porsche. They are all good and you really can’t go wrong (unless you pick yellow … don’t be that guy). But in life, you have to make hard decisions and that’s why I’m a proud member of Team Curly Fries.
The reason is simple: No other style of fry gets me quite as excited when looking at a restaurant menu. I (nor has anyone, ever, according to my limited research) gone to a restaurant and said, “Yes! They have shoestring fries here!” That’s because shoestring fries aren’t that exciting. Neither are steak, crinkle, sweet, poutine (can’t believe that’s even part of this debate) or anything else. But curly fries, on the other hand, give me a little extra surge of energy.
Then there’s the fries themselves. With curly, you never know what you’ll get. Some are small with a single curl. Some are long and twisty, like a roller coaster of taste in your mouth. But all are special. All are delicious. All are better than everything else. Unless you’d rather drive a Toyota instead of a Porsche.
The Shoestring Fry is the Real MVP
I spend much more time thinking about eating french fries than a well-adjusted person ever should, and every time I do, I’m eating the simplest and most dependable version of the fry: the shoestring.
Perhaps the phrase “simple and dependable” has come to carry a negative connotation, like what The Bachelorette says about the dude she’s definitely kicking off the show before fantasy suites, but hear me out: the shoestring is a classic. The point of the french fry is that it’s supposed to be the companion to the meal, not the meal itself, and this is what our good friend The Shoestring truly excels at. It’s skinny and manageable so you feel like you’re actually eating a fry and not just a straight-up hunk of pure potato (side-eyein’ you, Steak Fry Defender), and there are no heaping amounts of gravy and other overwhelming add-ons to dilute what’s there. The litheness of the fry itself also helps to not fill you up quite as quickly, and can trick you into believing it’s not as action-packed with calories and things that are very bad for you as some of the other, bigger fry options (this is a lie I have been telling myself for 27 years).
A true french fry doesn't need to be too much. It just needs to be an uncomplicated, perfectly salted and always delicious snack. It just needs to be the shoestring.
Embrace the potato: Steak fries are the best
Steak fries are the closest you’ll get to simply eating a transformed potato, and that’s their inherent beauty. You get the classic frite crispiness, along with a fluffy, decadent baked potato inside.
I will acknowledge that some steak fries can lack the crunch of other smaller (and inferior) fries, but just deep fry these twice and you get the perfect fry. And there’s even versatility among the steak fry community. Want it to be more wedge-like? Go for it. Skin peeled or not? Your prerogative.
There’s a reason the Brits usually deploy thick-cut fries for their famous fish and chips. They’re just better. And have you ever seen poutine made with shoestring or curly fries? No. (I’m sure some animal out there makes their poutine like this … please stop.)
Steak fries, with all of their surface area, have a texture and body to them that makes dipping a glorious experience. And eating a whole bunch of them is simply a heartier, more fulfilling experience.
Essentially, I’m not sure why steak fries get so much hate. Get some good dipping sauces, try to forget the fast food industry’s “thin-cut fry” propaganda and enjoy a true potato experience.
Poutine will change your life for the better
There are two reasons I’m glad I’m not Canadian: their plastic money is tough to keep in my wallet and I would eat enough poutine to kill me by the time I turn 30.
I might be cheating here by calling a french fry-based dish the best kind of fry but I will make no apologies. Poutine—fries soaked in gravy and covered with cheese curds—is the best way to eat french fries. I was introduced to it on a trip to Montreal in college and my life has changed for the better.
Cheese fries are great, right? Adding a robust brown gravy and replacing the processed cheese sludge with squeaky cheddar cheese curds is even better.
My greatest regret is that it is not more readily available in the United States.