In Praise of the French Fry Sandwich

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Many people think I’m odd when it comes to eating. I eat all the toppings off my pizza and then eat the crust last (best part) but ONLY when it’s homemade pizza. Delivery? Fork and knife. I’m finicky, fussy, and often flustered when trying to decide what to make. Sandwiches are a prime example.

I don’t eat a lot of sandwiches but I do have a couple of favourites. First up: my dad’s potato stuffing. Yes, I put it between two soft slices of white bread (heaven in a loaf). My family’s roots are English on both sides and decidedly working class on my Father’s side. We’ve always proudly claimed that we could put anything between two slices of bread and make it a sandwich. And we do. My dad’s stuffing is made with potatoes, onions, sage, salt, bread crumbs, and some other spices. And it makes the perfect sandwich. Mmmmmmmm. Then there’s my standby, work cafeteria sandwich, the bacon-tomato-cheese on toast with mayo. Not as good as homemade but passable. Then there’s baked beans. Open up a tin of beans and slap the contents between two slices of bread. You want it just warm enough to start melting the butter so that it mixes with the sauce but not hot enough so that it scalds your mouth or melts through the bread. Delicious. But none compare to my all time fave…the French fry sandwich. Also known as the chip butty.

Until yesterday, it was a sandwich I only eat at home with the exception of one time at Brit’s Fish and Chips where they encouraged me to go ahead. People in North America tend to look at you funny when you slap your fries onto a piece of bread and eat them. It’s just not done. In my family though, no one thinks I’m weird when I make one. Yesterday, I had the wickedest craving for one at work though and decided I’d see what happened if I asked for one. The cafeteria was empty except for the cook so I risked it. Turns out, she was born in Scotland and spent her childhood there. I love her. She didn’t even blink an eye at me but when straight ahead and made me one. Again, not as good as home made but still pretty yummy all things considered. And I did get a weird look from a coworker when I started eating it at my desk.
There are a few things that I’d like to say regarding the chip butty though just to clear things up for everyone. First of all, the bread should ONLY be white. Don’t even think about using brown bread. It’s just not right. Too fibre-y. The texture’s all wrong. Secondly, I prefer margarine (as this is what I grew up with) but I’m willing to let people get away with butter. Third, salt please. Fries require salt (amount varies depending on your preference). Unsalted fries in a sandwich? No thank you. Finally, never never EVER put ketchup or mayo on your sandwich. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. I don’t care how much you enjoy ketchup it does NOT belong on a French fry sandwich. And mayo? If you want to dip your fries in it, ok but don’t put it on a sandwich with any potato product. It belongs on a BLT, in tuna fish/egg salad, in potato salad and not much else. The chip butty is not a sandwich which needs sauce and should not, in any way, be compromised by semi-liquid goop inserted between the white fluffy slices of bread. The ONLY exception that I would be willing to make…brown sauce a.k.a. HP. And even this should be used sparingly. It has a strong taste and you don’t want to overpower the joy that is the white bread/French fry combo.

If you haven’t tried one of these gastronomic wonders, you really should. Mmmmmmmmm. Trust me. Fabulicious.

14 comments:

Pokecheck said...

The Captain does not play when it comes to carbs. Avast.

tweetey30 said...

Never had one but to be honest with you I prefer my french fries by them selves with no bread or extra toppings...

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Mmmmmmmmm, there'snothing better than all those carbs sometimes. One of my favorite lunches is a big bowl of bread and gravy.

mister anchovy said...

I'm a pretty open-minded guy, and if you like your fries on a sandwich, I say, whatever gets you through the night, s'alright. Me, I prefer my fries on the side.

Captain Karen said...

Pokecheck: Indeed I do not. Carbs are my my life. Bring 'em on. They make me oh so very happy. Mmmm, carbs... Oh god, I need a man.

Tweets: I don't think they're for everyone. Other people love poutine; I can't stand it. Just personal preference.

Dr. Monkey: Oh my god. Are you reading my mind? I used to have that for days after Christmas dinner when we'd run out of turkey but not gravy. Isn't it fabulous?????

Mr. Anchovy: Again, not for everyone. Plain ole' chips with some vinegar and salt are absolutely fabulous as well. I'm certainly not a ketchup fan unless I absolutely have to but I'll take some gravy any day!

Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, puh-leeeez...I must have ketchup on mine! There is nothing wrong with it at all!

I am no stranger to the chip butty, my dad being a Brit. We even used to but chips on our hamburgers!

Heather said...

Can you have vinegar on it? Or - better yet - malt vinegar?

sp said...

I'm not sure it's for me, but I did want to mention a CBC radio program that has been dedicating much time to sandwiches. People have been mailing them from all over Canada with their sandwich combos. I think you should send this one in.

Captain Karen said...

WC: Oh ok, go ahead, have some icky ketchup! But only for you. Everyone else? NO. Chips on burgers? Hmmmmm.

Heather: Arrrrgh! Exceptions all around. Yes, you can have vinegar. While I like the plain vinegar on fries if they're on a plate, I've never added them to fries in a sandwich as I think that would make the bread soggy. However, if you try this out, please let me know!

SP: I listen to CBC radio at work each day and have been loving hearing about all the weird things Canadians eat across this great country. Frankly, after some of the suggestions, I think my chip butty fascination is a bit tame!

nwtrunner said...

Having been born in Scotland - land of weird foods - I like chip butties too, but I definitely ascribe to the malt vinegar and HP sauce side of life. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. I had to laugh at you saying bread must be white - can you imagine someone wanting 12 grain organic whole wheat bread for a chip butty?!

Your dad's potato stuffing sounds really, really yummy too. Be neat if you posted the recipe (hint, hint)

Pokecheck said...

Ok my favorite sandwich is peanut butter, bologna, american cheese, and doritos on white bread so I'm not picking on the noble chip butty.

* (asterisk) said...

Chips, salt 'n' vinegar, white bread, butter (or marge). Accept no substitutes.

Anonymous said...

Chip butty definitely feels like a "rainy day at the beach" sandwich to me - absolutely fantastic!

And I agree that there should be no mayo or ketchup. The marg or butter will melt because of the hot chips and make it "wet" enough. Uh-oh, I feel a craving coming on...

At uni I had way too many "chips and gravy" at the caf - that's a great combo!

Anonymous said...

You have to learn about Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh: meat, cheese, coleslaw, tomato and fries on fresh white bread: http://www.primantibrothers.com/menu/city/strip/
They created the sandwich so truckers could fit a whole meal in one hand while travelling through.

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