french fries herb

Is it possible to love french fries as much as your significant other? Columnist Herb Benham makes a good case for it.

Cousin Bea is starting the year by giving up french fries.

“I eat too many french fries,” she said.

How many is too many?

“I probably have them once a week,” she said. “I’m going to see if I can go down to once a month.”

“Once a month?” That’s like prison. That’s akin to french fry lockdown.

She asked me what I thought, looking, I suppose, for my support. I told her she didn't have a chance. I may have used the word prayer as in “you don’t have a prayer” or that “you might have to enlist the power of prayer to withstand the pull of french fries.”

Think about the french fries you’ve known and loved. That list is a big list with room for more.

French fry love is like love-love. You never forget your first french fry and if you do, it’s because fry leads to fry like love leads to love.

I remember french fries I had in Switzerland 45 years ago. They were thin, crisp, salty, hot. I can taste them like it was yesterday.

French fries choices have multiplied like crispy rabbits: truffle fries, steak cut, shoestring, crinkle cut, waffle, curly, chili cheese, garlic, blue cheese and nacho for starters. I don’t count sweet potato fries. They snuck in without a full accounting from the Board of Fries, of which I am a member.

I was eating at the Knotty Pine recently. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger — try giving that one up, Bea — and I had a choice of macaroni salad, potato salad, cottage cheese, fruit, sliced tomatoes, green salad, soup or fries.

Fruit? Fruit and bacon cheeseburgers are natural enemies in the restaurant wild. I know about two people who would choose cottage cheese and I’m not sure why we remain friends. Green salad is healthy, but choosing green salad over fries is a fatal mistake.

Green salad is something you eat at home. At home, when it’s quiet, you’re depressed and you’ve accepted that God is dead and he’s not coming back soon.

Macaroni salad is fine if it’s the 4th of July, but no one in their right mind chooses potato salad if they can order fries.

I chose the crinkle cut fries. They were crispy on the outside, soft in the middle and had a touch of seasoning salt lodged in the potato canyons.

If you want a treat, try the shoestring fries at Uricchio's. They’re like a bird’s nest of salty, crispy, feathery-light goodness. They're so good they’ll make you forget about the chicken piccata, the dish they are designed to support but quickly overwhelm.

There is no shortage of good fries. I like In-N-Out but people make heartfelt cases for McDonald’s and other places. The Barnyard at Match Point Grill at the Bakersfield Racquet Club serves sensational fries.

Giving up french fries is like giving up cheese. You’ve given yourself two reasons less to live. Throw chocolate in there and it might be time to die in your sleep.

“Day 8 and I am fry-free. I am deciding when my special day will be,” Bea wrote a couple of days ago.

Bea has a big job ahead of her. I don’t want that job. We’ll both be happier when she quits that job.

Contact The Californian’s Herb Benham at 661-395-7279 or His column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own.

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