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FOOD HOLIDAY: Different Types Of French Fries, A Glossary

Today is National Julienne Fries Day.

What are julienne fries? How do they fit in with all the other types of fries?

Julienne is a French cutting technique, typically for vegetables, in which the food item is cut into long thin strips, similar to matchsticks. Another word for the same cut is allumette.

  • The official jullienne size is 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 inches.
  • The next thicker cut, batonnet, is 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch x 2½ to 3 inches.
  • The baton is the thickest stick cut: 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch x 2-1/2 inches.
    Fries, or French fries, refer to sliced, deep fried potatoes. They can be made with sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, baked instead of fried, and served plain as well as with a myriad of condiments (barbecue sauce, blue cheese dressing, ketchup, gravy, malt vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, ranch dressing, thousand island dressing.


    Waffle fries. Photo courtesy U.S. Potato Board.

    While julienne is the most typical cut, here are some of the other popular types of fries:


  • Boardwalk Fries: From the Mid-Atlantic area, these fries are seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning and malt vinegar.
  • Carne Asada Fries or Carne Fries: A specialty of Mexican restaurants in the San Diego area, comprising a base of fries topped with carne asada (grilled flank or skirt steak) with garnishes of cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded lettuce and sour cream; some establishments include pico de gallo and lettuce.
  • Cheese Fries: Crinkle, julienne or other fry shape topped with melted cheese: grated Parmesan, shredded Cheddar, mozzarella or Swiss cheese, Cheez Whiz, Velveeta—even blue cheese or ranch dressing. Chili, bacon, chives/green onion, garlic, jalapeños, mayonnaise and other ingredients can be added.
  • Chili Cheese Fries: Fries topped with chile con carne.
  • Chips: The British word for fries. In America the term can refer to homemade potato chips, a popular restaurant item. Make your own with this recipe, or try these gourmet homemade potato chips with truffle oil.
  • Crinkle Fries: Fries with grooved edges that are made with a special crinkle cutter.
  • Curly Fries: French fries cut with a special curly fry cutter that creates long, thin spirals. Sometimes called wavy fries, they are often served a side of melted cheese. Ketchup, sour cream or sweet chili sauce are also popular condiments.
  • Disco Fries or Elvis Fries: A New Jersey specialty, made with steak fries topped with brown gravy and mozzarella cheese fries; some establishments substitute processed American cheese. Also see Newfie Fries and Poutine.
  • French Fries, French Fried Potatoes or Fries: In French, the formal name for fried potatoes is pommes de terre frites (PUM-duh-tare-FREET). The term is often shortened to pommes frites or simply, frites. The terms aiguillettes or allumettes refer to very thinly sliced chips.

    Tornado fries, also called spiral fries. Photo courtesy

  • Home Fries or Cottage Fries: A potato dish made by pan-frying sliced potatoes that have been par-cooked by boiling or other technique, then pan-fried in butter or oil—not deep fried. When diced green and red bell peppers are added, and optional chopped onions, they are called Potatoes O’Brien. They dish was created at John’s restaurant in Manhattan in the early 1900s.
  • Julienne Fries: A popular width for French fried potatoes: 1/8 inch × 1/8 inch × 2 inches.
  • Jojo Fries: A regional term for potato wedges.
  • Matchstick Fries: The popular term for julienne fries.
  • Newfie Fries: A dish originating in Newfoundland: fries, dressing (turkey stuffing made with summer savory) and gravy. One variation adds ground beef or hot dogs and cheese.
  • Oven Fries: “Fries” that are baked in the oven instead of fried.
  • Patatje Oorlog: A Dutch dish of fries with eight or more sauces—anything from chopped raw onion and relishes to mayonnaise and peanut sauce. Some establishments provide up to 40 different condiment variations. Patatje oorlong is Dutch for “French fries war.”

  • Potato Wedges: Fries made from large, wedge-shaped chunks of potato, often unpeeled. Regional terms include jojos and tater babies. The wedges can be baked instead of fried. Popular condiments include barbecue sauce, brown sauce, gravy, ketchup, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, sour cream and sweet chili sauce.
  • Poutine: A Canadian dish from rural Quebec that tops French fries with fresh cheese curds (sometimes grated cheese), covered with hot gravy. Disco fries, from New England, are a variation.
  • Seasoned Fries: French fries coated with spices. Black pepper, garlic powder, chili flakes, onion powder and paprika are popular, but you can make curry fries, basil-dill fries or whatever you find appealing.
  • Shoestring Fries: Another term for julienne fries, the thinnest cut.
  • Steak Fries: These are thicker-cut fries—baton or wider—often cooked with the skin on. They can be fried or coated with spices and baked.
  • Sweet Potato Fries: Made from sweet potatoes, typically in the julienne or shoestring cut.
  • Texas Fries or Texas-Style Fries: Steak fries with the skin on.
  • Tornado Fries: A shape invented by the Tornado Fries company and copied by others. They are made from a single potato cut with a gadget into a one-piece spiral, which is fried on 18- or 26-inch skewers. Sometimes they are wrapped around a foot-long hot dog.
  • Tots or Tater Tots: Small cylinders made from deep-fried, grated potatoes. “Tater Tots” is a trademark of Ore-Ida, which invented the little potato bites in 1953. Here’s a recipe to make your own baked tots.
  • Waffle Fries or Waffle Cut Fries: French fries cut with a special tool into a criss-cross pattern. In France they’re called pommes gaufrettes (gaufrette is the French word for waffle).
  • Wavy Fries: Another term for curly fries.

    Potatoes originated in Peru and spread to other parts of Latin America. Fried potatoes—cooking potatoes in fat over a fire—is a practice thousands of years old.

    Potatoes were “discovered” and brought back to Europe by the Spanish conquistadors—where they were uses as hog feed! The French were convinced that potatoes caused leprosy, and French Parliament banned cultivation of potatoes in 1748.

    A French army medical officer named Antoine-Augustine Parmentier was forced to eat potatoes as a POW, and discovered their culinary potential. Through his efforts, in 1772, the Paris Faculty of Medicine finally proclaimed that potatoes were edible for humans—though it took a famine in 1785 for the French to start eating them in earnest.

    In 1802, Thomas Jefferson’s White House chef, Honoré Julien, a Frenchman, served “potatoes served in the French manner” at a state dinner. The potatoes were “deep-fried while raw, in small cuttings.” French fries had arrived. By the early 20th century, the term “French fried,” meaning “deep-fried,” was being used for other foods as well (onion rings and zucchini sticks, anyone?)




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