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Chips vs. fries

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Cracker Jack, Jan 16, 2006.

  1. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    I have often heard and read in fastfood chains fries, French fries and the like. It goes with burgers and soda. Correct me if I'm mistaken but I have known somewhere that French fries actually is an American ''invention'' when a cook accidentally spilled potato strips to a metal box containing hot cooking oil and the rest is history...

    Actually, it has nothing to do with being French at all. But also I often hear the term chips to refer to French fries. What I understand about chips is that they are potato slices, flat and thin and salted.

    To me, fries refer to long strips and chips to thin, round and flat ones. Is this a matter of AE and BE difference? I know that the British fare ''Fish and Chips'' consists of flour-dredged fish fillet, fried and accompanied by fried potatoes. But this potatoes are thicker and not shaped like French fries. They rather look like wedges.

    Can you please enlighten me on this. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Aupick

    Aupick Senior Member

    Strasbourg, France
    UK, English
    Linguistically, 'chips' is the British English equivalent of the American English 'French fries', deep fried sticks of potato, eaten hot
    .
    Similary, 'chips' is used in American English to refer to what British English calls 'crisps', salty thin slices of fried potato, eaten cold. (Picture)

    Culturally, though, American French fries tend to be thinner than British chips. This, and the American influence in the British fast food industry, means that you'll also find French fries in Britain, as an alternative variety of chips, but essentially chips (BE) = French fries (AE).
     
  3. daviesri Senior Member

    Houston, TX
    USA English
    Being an American that has also live in the UK, I agree with everything Aupick says above.
     
  4. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Proper British Chips are essentially potato, not like French Fries, which thanks to USfastfoodchains are thin fingers of crisp.

    Real chips are made with real potatoes, peeled (badly) and cut into half-inch fingers then fried at least twice in beef dripping. They have a flavour that is a universe apart from French Fries. They should, of course, be wrapped in newspaper.

    Eaten fresh, chips have a crisp outside that cracks open to reveal a steaming, starchy, glistening white inside. Eaten normally (soused in salt and vinegar and nestling in the newspaper) they rapidly develop a truly, uniquely, wonderfully greasy sogginess that must be experienced to be appreciated.

    For preference, the experience should be on the long walk home with the young lady of your choice, late in the evening after a visit to the cinema.
     
  5. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Must say, Prof. Panj:
    I briefly lived in England, and experienced the "chips" you are talking about. They were usually in conjunction with some fried fish, and were called, oddly enough ;) , "fish and chips." The closest thing I can think of that we might have in America would be "Boardwalk Fries" (which aren't as thick as British "chips" but are doused in Vinegar and salt, (or Old Bay Seasoning: famous in Maryland, USA). I discovered these in Ocean City, Maryland, and they, along with a pretty young lass at your side, made for a delicious walk along the boardwalk...<sigh>, especially in the cool of the evening, when you have spent the day "baking" on the beach, and want a walk in the cool night air.

    (Did I hear hearty approval, VenusEnvy? :D )

     
  6. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Must be another of those dreadful AE/BE differences, but I am having trouble associating the "wonderfully greasy sogginess that must be experienced to be appreciated" with the lady of my choice. Her crisp exterior comes naturally salted, and vinegar would add nothing to her acerbic wit.

    All of that culinary background aside, there is another AE item which I cook frequently, and which sounds like chips(BE): steak fries. These are best when the potato is at least four inches long or longer. It is usually pealed, badly, then cut into wedges
    about 1/2" thick, and deep fried in good oil--olive oil if I'm well provisioned, some other if not. To the oil I add thin slices of onion and fresh garlic, as well as a little salt and fresh ground pepper. The oil must be very, very hot, and the cooking is done quickly, to yield the desired crispy exterior, without the sog. I have served these to some of the scruffier members of this forum, and they made approving noises as they reached for seconds.
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Steak Fries are available here as a slightly larger, usually frozen, version of the real Chip. But they are nothing in comparison to what I imagine

    Cuchu's steak fries (we'd call them wedges) are very close triangular cousins to British Chips. I like the idea of adding onion, garlic and seasoning to the oil ...
    ... served with sour cream and chilli sauce?

    You see we have chips, wedges, steak fries, french fries, curly fries, skinny fries, skins, ... and in that posh place where they stack them into a log cabin effect on the plate, pommes frites. At heart (which is where they strike hardest:p) they are all deep-fried potato.
     
  8. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    Thanks a lot for your replies. Now I know that it is once again a matter of AE-BE difference. The only thing that leaves it unsettled is why Americans call it French fries. Or was it really in the US where the name originated.

    Panj your suggestion is great. Probably, it could be done walking along the coastline on a starry night. Most fastfoods fry them only once. But I've tried some of them fried using oil drippings from roasted chicken and the taste was heavenly.
     
  9. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    aye - beef dripping is great for chips (although no-one is allowed to serve them in newspaper anymore)

    If you don't care for deep frying at home, then you can make great jumbo chips in the oven if you cut wedges of potato and brush them with DUCK fat - prior to baking in a very hot oven for 1/2 hour or so and sprinkle with salt before serving!

    I can assure you that you'll be impressed, even you, Panj!
     
  10. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    "french frying" or deep-fat frying is a method of cooking, where there is enough oil for the food to float in it.

    compare "pan frying"


    French Fried Potatoes are thus potatoes which have been cooked using this method.

    For best results, the food is fried twice - first at a lower temperature to cook the food,
    then fried a second time a higher temperature to give the crisp crust.

    Several countries lay claim to having invented fries/chips.
    Belgium claims to have been cooking them in the 1680s.

    The Belgians like a pomme frite which is thicker than the shoestring US version, but not as thick as the UK version of a chip. The Belgians like to put mayonnaise on them - extra good for the heart.

    The name "fries" was introduced to Australia by US fast-food franchises, and we usually restrict the name to their shoestring offerings.

    Ordinary chips are called "chips" or "hot chips". The majority of food outlets call their offerings [hot] chips, not fries.

    A potato crisp may be called a [potato] crisp here, or a [potato] chip. So you'll often hear "hot chips" to distinguish one from the other.
     
  11. Sabelotodo Senior Member

    Great Lakes Region, USA
    English, United States
    The name "french fries" is a shortened form of "frenched fried potatoes." "Frenched" is a cooking term that means "cut in strips."
     
  12. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    I have my doubts about that.

    In "normal" English, frenched fried potatoes would mean first fried, then frenched.

    But with "fries", the cooks french the potatoes first, then fry them, so in "normal" English, it would be fried frenched poatoes

    As in baked marinated tofu - first marinate, then bake
     
  13. Cracker Jack Senior Member

    Sabelotodo and Brioche, I just want to know if the terms french and julienne are synonymous? In both ways, potatoes are cut to strips. I am not sure whether in one or the other, potatoes are twirled or given fancy shapes before geting fried for the first time. Then they are refried.
     
  14. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    I've heard only the term "julienne" for thin strips.

    Merriam-Webster on-line has
    french (2) "to cut (green beans) in thin lengthwise strips before cooking".

    It would be a very clever cook who could cut fried potatoes into fancy shapes before frying a second time.
    I'll go for cut first, then fry.
     
  15. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    No grammar book I've seen has had the guts to say so, but AE
    has lots of usages that ignore "normalcy".
     
  16. mhp Senior Member

    American English
    BTW, it is "french fried potatoes" and not "frenched fried potatoes". As for the order of adjectives, I don't think English implies any temporal causality among a series of adjectives. In a series of adjectives, the most important one goes closest to the noun (most of the time but not always). In this case, the fact that they are "fried potatoes" is the primary qualification. "Fried french potatoes" while may be an accurate recipie, would imply something like "fried new potatoes" (new potato is a kind of potato usually red in color)--just my 2 cent :)
     
  17. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    I think you've missed the point here, or not followed the thread.

    It has been suggested by Sabelotodo that "french fried potatoes" is a shortened form of "frenched fried potatoes". In this case "frenched" meaning "cut into strips".

    An alternate suggestion is that "french fried potatoes" comes from the verb "to french fry" meaning "to cook swimming in oil".

    Incidentally "new potatoes" refers simply to the age. New potatoes are immature potatoes harvested in spring or early summer. You can usually tell new potatoes by how easy it is to peel them. The skin should come off in your fingers.
    It has nothing to do with colour.
     
  18. mhp Senior Member

    American English
    You are right. I had not read it very carefully. I only wanted to make a point about the last few comments about the order of adjectives.

    ---
    PS, And thank you for the pointer on new/red potato. I had always used the two terms as synonyms.
     
  19. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    New potatoes include the varieties of potato that will yield the earliest potato crops for the new season. They are fully mature when harvested.
     
  20. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    The British Potato Council says:
    Q: What are new potatoes?
    A:
    Potato varieties are classified according to their growing season. Potatoes that are taken out of the ground earlier than the others in the crop are called "new" or "earlies". The ones that are harvested later are known as "maincrop".
     
  21. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I agree that "french fried" has nothing to do with the spuds being cut into strips, or "shoestrings" as mentioned elsewhere. "Frenched" or "french-cut" beans are green or stringbeans cut lenghtways instead of across, sometimes at a slight angle. They are not julienned, which is to say not that finely sliced.

    I understand perfectly that "shoestring" is descriptive of American fast-food fries. But we also have "shoestring potatoes" which are a form of potato chips, marketed in cans and eaten cold. Instead of being sliced thin, they are the size of fat, squared-off toothpicks. Now that I think about it, you could use the word "julienne" for these. They're not very common-- I think they've been replaced by "Pringles," which are a hideous tasteless potato-chip simulacrum, an extruded starchy slurry baked into absolutely identical shapes and sold stacked in a can-like carton. Well, maybe Pringles are available worldwide and consequently well-known-- I hope not. When they first came out I was sure they'd be a dud-- I underestimated the American consumer base's propensity for salty textureless blandness. "Taco shells" are an object lesson in that principle, and I should've applied it.
    .
     
  22. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Stoke on Trent
    England and English
    I'm going to risk a LOL here - though I'm sure I''ll get moderated for chat --
    I think this thread only has a shoestring holding it to anything linguistic anyway! btw - pringles are VERY big in the UK but Golden Wonder (who make crisps out of real potatoes rather than slurry are going BUST!
     
  23. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    What a crying shame-- shame on all of us!

    Hey, I think slurry is a suitable side-topic to "chips vs fries"-- it brings out the antagonism implicit in the term versus.
    .
     

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