As Promised: Adventures in cooking in Georgia, Part I

Sunflower oil.

What is it that I like in a french fry? I like my fries to have a certain crispiness, but without ever being airy or starchy or crunchy. I don’t like steak fries because they tend to be soggy on the outside and dry and starchy on the inside. Shoestring fries are better, but they tend to be insubstantial and are often either soggy or crunchy. Curly fries are usually my favorite, but they tend to be far too greasy. And overall, the fry should taste like salty potato.

The Georgian french fry is the perfect french fry. It has a light, crispy outside, a substantial but never dry or starchy inside, and a perfect balance of salt and flavor. The fry is oily, but never greasy – it is not the kind of oil that gives you that disgusting, drowning in oil feeling that you get when you eat a bunch of curly fries or onion rings. Every Georgian french fry I’ve had – without fail – has been extremely delicious, and many have approached perfection.

It’s not impossible to get good fries in the States, but it’s not always easy. I’d say one in twenty diners and bars in the States makes decent fries. I don’t know any that make fries as good as Georgian fries.

So finally, one day, I asked my English Club – a group of Georgian Police Academy staffers who meet with me and my fellow TLG teacher to talk about random stuff so they can practice their English – what made Georgian french fries so good. English club often talks about food, since Georgians love food and both of us English teachers are cooks. One person ventured that it was the Georgian potato, but I quickly decided that this could not be the case – after all, in the US we have a number of potato varieties, most of which I ardently dislike, but we also have the Russet Burbank, which I absolutely adore, and in any case, it seemed like it wasn’t so much the potato taste, but the properties of the oil, that made the fries here different. So as a follow-up I asked what kind of oil they used to fry the potatoes in. It seemed so obvious to the Georgians, because in Georgia there is only one general-purpose frying oil: sunflower oil.

Sunflower oil is the only oil in which to fry french fries. Not only is the taste and texture better than with other vegetable oils, but sunflower oil is also lower in saturated fat than other vegetable oils. Apparently it is becoming more popular in the States now due to its better health profile than other oils.

So without further ado, I present my recipe for Georgian french fries:

***Edit: these fries can be stored for at least two days, in a tupperware container lined with paper towel, and will reheat on a griddle quite deliciously.***

Ingredients:
Potatoes
Sunflower Oil
Salt

Procedure:
Step one: cut up potatoes
Step two: fry them in oil
Step three: add salt

I recommend cutting the potatoes thin and cooking them relatively slowly, so they don’t burn, but your mileage may vary. You can make the fries in whatever style you prefer, and I can pretty much guarantee that they’ll taste better and cleaner than they did with other oils.

I know, it’s almost so simple that it feels ridiculous actually writing out a recipe that has three ingredients and three steps. It reminds me of that Brian Regan bit with the Pop-Tart instructions:

********

I would feel remiss in my duty as a blogger to write a post about cooking without shouting out my friend’s food blog, Habeas Brulee. I am an average or slightly above-average cook with a small but growing number of really strong recipes in my stable that I can execute with great proficiency, thus presenting others with the illusion that I am a great cook. Danielle, on the other hand, is an amazing culinary virtuoso who invents recipes no one has ever dreamed of using ingredients I’ve never heard of and pulls them off with a level of talent and flair that is usually reserved for the world’s finest restaurants, and she does it in her spare time, just because. It is truly a wonder to behold.

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4 Responses to As Promised: Adventures in cooking in Georgia, Part I

  1. Connie says:

    I can’t comment about the french fries, since I usually hate them, and so didn’t try them on my last visit to GE. You have inspired me to try them on my next visit.

    I can comment, however, on the wonderful sunflower oil. I was given some as a gift to take home to the US on my last visit, and once I tasted its flavorful, nutty goodness I hoard it. It’s wonderful mixed with vinegar as a dressing for salad , it’s excellent for saute, you can drizzle it on bread, toss it with some pasta and fresh tomatoes, sprinkle with cheese YUM!

  2. user says:

    Strange that the only dish you mention in Georgia is fries πŸ˜€ I think Georgian cuisine is one of the best. Try other things too! :)))

    • panoptical says:

      I feel this comment is very unfair since I have talked about my experience with Georgian cuisine in numerous other posts.

  3. Andrew says:

    The only sunflower oil I have had was from my local Asian market in the South and it tasted rancid. Also I would contend that fries are also very tasty fried in duck fat, that is another acceptable frying medium.

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