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The French Fry Revolution

December 12, 2018

In college I took a really interesting class on the French Revolution. If I could remember any of what I learned, I’m sure I could come up with a clever tie in to my current course of action with french fries.

Perhaps you remember the scuttlebutt about the Harvard professor who suggested a burger should come with only six french fries and a side salad. Well, that’s just silly. But the larger point he was making is very valid.

The mindless eating of too many french fries, will make you feel stupid full, very fast. And the opportunity cost of doing so is a wide variety of additional culinary pleasures. Which isn’t to say that french fries should be avoided at all cost. Rather, one should try to maximize their joy by eating fewer french fries, to save room for other treats.

That is something I can get behind. So, last night I put this new ideology to the test. But to make it work, an old ideology had to be sent to the guillotine.

One of the reasons I have a tendency to overeat is based on my abhorrence of food waste.

Throwing food in the trash is wrong for so many reasons. Primarily, it is deeply upsetting to have food tossed when there are so many people who are struggling with food insecurity. However, there are real environmental impacts as well to our overflowing landfills thanks to our disposable culture. And it also irks me on the level of fiscal responsibility to throw away a portion of something for which I paid money.

I mean, who would buy a pack of socks, and simply throw away one of the pairs. Especially when there were people with no socks of their own?

At meal times I tend to eat all the food I am served. Usually, I help the kiddos finish up the food they’ve been served too. If there is something I cannot finish, that comes home as leftovers. And these days, I make sure to use those leftovers before they spoil.

But leftover french fries? That’s a hard sell.

As far as I can tell, nothing good can come from them. Maybe you can cut them up, and use the cold greasy remnants as part of a breakfast hash. Perhaps you can mash them, and reconstitute the mass of oily potatoes in a waffle iron for some kind of phantasmagorical fatty food delight? Perhaps you take that french fry waffle, and wrap it around a piece of fried chicken, and dunk the whole thing in a maple gravy? Still, nobody needs that.

So last night, after eating more than six—but fewer than half—of my french fries, I had the waitress throw the rest away.

On one hand, it felt good to exercise such restraint. On the other hand, the waste kills me.

In the light of a new day, as I think about it further, perhaps there’s another plan. One that punishes the restaurant just a little bit for over-serving its patrons, so that the management may reconsider portion sizes in the future.

What if, before allowing the server to toss the remaining food, we ask if the restaurant composts its food waste? At the very least, that would help solve the concern about environmental impacts. For those restaurants that do compost, or at least instruct the service staff to say there is a compost program in place, just let those leftover fries go.

However, if the restaurant does not compost, ask for a to go container for the fries. Maybe as you’re pondering the decision with the server, you can even hum a few bars of Alice’s Restaurant. I’m still not sure exactly what to do with the old, cold, leftover fries once they make it back home. Maybe the waffle iron plan isn’t the worst. Maybe it’s better to toss a few fries into the woods and let them decompose with the leaves. Perhaps the chipmunks will enjoy them.

Certainly, if you have other ideas, I’m open to explore the possibilities.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MikeH permalink
    December 12, 2018 12:04 pm

    Preheat your oven to 450. Throw leftover french fries on a baking sheet. Put in oven for 3 or 4 minutes to reheat. We did this last weekend for fries that my daughter and I each had leftover from lunch at a diner the day before. Worked great.

  2. chrisck permalink
    December 12, 2018 5:51 pm

    There is another solution. How about people ordering fries only once a month (or less) and enjoy the whole serving while it’s hot and at its best? That day you can eat less fat at other meals. I hate food waste, too, and the idea of throwing away food is abhorrent. And while I believe in compost heaps and have one, Anthony Bourdain’s film “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste” suggests composting edible food is not a great solution to food waste. It’s actually the 3rd best use of food with all its many attendant resources (water, energy, labor, transportation costs). Frist is feeding humans, second is feeling animals (NOT squirrels in the woods – bad idea to feed wildlife human processed foods!), and third composting.

    Just like dessert is still okay to eat if you don’t eat it often, so is a full (not supersized) serving of fries. And if restaurants keep automatically pairing fries with meals, try asking for a substitution (small salad) and maybe restauranteurs will rethink the formulaic side of fries.


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