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Right Sized Fries

December 13, 2017

Happy Chanukah! Last night at sunset it began, and I had grand plans of making latkes. I ran out to the store earlier in the day to pick up eggs, onions, potatoes, sour cream, applesauce, and most importantly… oil.

Never forget, all this fried goodness is really to commemorate the myth of the miracle of the oil. But to me it’s no myth. Oil is miraculous in and of itself.

Then, the spelling bee happened.

Somehow, my son is an amazing speller. He must get that from his mom. But in last year’s spelling bee, he drew some incredibly hard word in the third round and we were able to leave early. This year, he made it all the way into round ten. Over two hours later, it was ultimately “Gemmary” that prevented him from moving on to regionals.

The important part of that last paragraph was the two hours bit. Making latkes from scratch wasn’t going to happen. Heck, we wouldn’t even have time to heat the frozen emergency latkes I got as a backup plan.

So we had to find our fried foods elsewhere.

One of the things I love about Five Guys is the little sized order of fries. Of course, since this is America, the little order of fries is fiendishly large. Because in addition to giving you just the little cup of fries you ordered, they also throw another scoop into the bag.

It’s not just the generosity that’s overwhelming, it’s the calorie count.

While on paper the difference between a little fry and a regular fry is about 200g and 400 calories, my experience suggests otherwise. My hypothesis is that the official calorie counts posted on the menu and online, are for the fries you order, and not the extra scoop they put in the bag. Of course, this can be tested. One day, maybe I’ll do just that.

But the point here is that a little fries is more than sufficient to supplement the meal of my family. Especially when it’s just me and the kids. Although it even works when Mrs. Fussy is around.

One shouldn’t gorge on fries. French fries are amazing when they are hot and fresh. You should never skip the fries. But if you order too many, those last fries don’t provide nearly a fraction of the pleasure of those first fries.

This is a general rule for all fried foods. When making latkes, the best place to eat them is in the kitchen, right out of the frying pan. Well, maybe not right out of the pan. It’s best to wait a few seconds so you can touch them without melting off your fingerprints. But if you wait for latkes to be served at the table, they have likely cooled down significantly and lost much of that glorious crispness.

Sure, I’ll eat all the latkes regardless. I’ll eat them until they are gone, or I simply can’t bring myself to put another bite in my mouth. In many ways I’m like Ben’s character in yesterday’s video. Part of that is about these being a once a year treat. The other part is about avoiding waste. But those last cold latkes are the ones that fill me with regret and self loathing.

Maybe this year I’ll try to be better about that.

But it’s not just fried potato treats that benefit from being offered in right sized quantities. Yesterday I saw on Facebook that Savoy Taproom is offering a Tuesday special of five wings and a beer for under ten bucks.

This is perfect.

Wings are one of those things that typically come in orders of ten or twelve. When I was just discovering wings in my teens, I would sometimes order them twenty at a time. But I know there are adults who pride themselves on how many wings they can take down.

Could I still devour twenty wings in a sitting? Sure. But I choose not to do it. And the more familiar you become with right sized portions, the more satisfying they seem.

Some quick back of the napkin calculations suggest that five wings and a dish of blue cheese dressing will set you back over 500 calories. Add a beer on top of that, and you’ve consumed more food energy than almost anyone needs to take in at a meal time.

Will you feel full? Well, that depends.

How quickly did you eat that food? How well did you chew it? How long has it been since your last meal? Are you accustomed to eating more? Are you a runner? Were you watching TV while you ate it?

There are a lot of factors at play.

Last night Little Miss Fussy was alarmed that she didn’t eat enough food, and that she might be hungry later. But she was strangely full. As usual, she had a third of the little order of fries, but could not eat more than a half of her little hamburger with ketchup. The culprit was half of a vanilla milkshake that she shared with her brother. And even that she could barely finish.

But after I explained to her the caloric density of french fries and milk shakes, she felt comforted in her satiety. One of these days, I’m hoping someone will start selling smaller milkshakes. You know, like kid sized ice cream cones. Because a few sips of a milkshake with a burger is wonderful. However, a full sized shake in addition to fries and a burger, is either a recipe for food waste or a bellyache.

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