Sometimes when it's late at night and I'm really just very hungry, all I want is some In-N-Out Animal Fries. My two year stint at the West Coast fast food restaurant was not always so fantastic, but it did afford me access to mountains upon mountains of free animal fries every week. When I finally moved on to bigger and better (but not more delicious) things I lost ten pounds within a month. The French are sneering at me. I can feel it. I can hear my roommates voice in my head saying "ugh, that's hawful!!!" While Matthias generally craves his junk food fix from QUIK (also known as Quality Burger Restaurant) when I mentioned that I had animal fries on my mind, his eyes glistened and he quickly asked me if I knew how to make them. True, I did work at In-N-Out for two years, and technically, yes, I do know how t make them but they aren't really a process intensive meal. It's all about a few simple ingredients. Simple ingredients I wasn't sure that I could find in Pairs (food capital my derrier...) But now we both had a craving and I couldn't really justify calling in my first foodie lifeline to the friends back home after only a week away.
I headed to the supermarche to see what I could round up.
Unlike America, where one can choose from any number of variously flavored pickles, from bread&butter to sweet or dill, France believes in one kind of pickle. The cornichon (french for gherkin.) I once bought these from trader joes and my dad (who we lovingly refer to as the garbage disposal, per our ability to send any amount of uneaten scraps of anything his way) was less then pleasantly surprised and told me never to make that mistake again. They have a very distinct taste and are quite small. There were no American style dill deli pickles (the kind used at In-N-Out) but they were my only option, so I grabbed them. I have since become rather fond of munching on my cornichons after a night of too much wine (read: every night in Paris.)
Next was the issue of spread. Often referred to as "sauce" "special sauce" or "secret sauce" spread is quite simply, thousand island dressing. The supermrache only has one kind of dressing in Paris, vinagrette (which Matthias made fun of me for purchasing, since apparently in France if you don't make your own, you are a...well...an American?) so I had to refer back to my grandfather. The only salad dressing he will eat is thousand island. The reason? the ingredients of thousand island are mayonnaise, pickles, and KETCHUP! his favorite ingredient of all time. Lucky for me, I had seen my mother whip up emergency thousand island for grandpa using these simple ingredients and since I already had gherkins in my tiny euro sized shopping basket, I picked up the ketchup and french style mayonnaise. Next up were frites. I headed down the street to Picard, a food store comprised ENTIRELY of frozen goods. From frois gras and escargot, to buche de noel and glace au chocolat. It's like a slice of French heaven in a freezer case. Picard sells 1kilo of frites for less than 1euro. score. The last item on my list was the cheese since we already had an onion at home. I needed American cheese, which other than on these fries is something I do not eat, nor could I find, nor would I have had the courage to purchase in Paris. Thankfully, Matthias found a pack of individually wrapped cheese slices and bought them for the good of the cause. So I mixed up the spread, diced up the cornichons, grilled the onions, baked the frites, melted the cheese and assembled the goey delicious mess.
I was really surprised at how well the French ingredients translated into authentic tasting animal fries. Matthias enjoyed them so much he asked for seconds and wanted them not once but twice more that same week. We still have some leftover cheese slices so Les Frites Sauvage may well be making a return this week. But you know, this is Paris, so obviously we had to eat them with a fork a knife like proper, civilized citizens.
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