Submitted By Simon Hardy Butler, November 3, 2016

There’s a horrible epidemic infecting America that few people are addressing … even though it pervades the nation’s fabric like stars spangling a banner.

It’s a disease that has infiltrated the souls of U.S. citizens after being latent for many moons. It’s unstoppable, affecting both rich and poor, sad and happy, Republican and Democrat, Beatles fan and Rolling Stones admirer. Both men and women have succumbed to this ailment. So far, no one’s found a cure.

That’s right—I’m talking about soggy French fries … and the resignation diners have when confronted with them.

You know the experience. The waiter brings you a hamburger, perhaps a steak frites—and the carby, salty potato sticks beside the meat are as limp as wilted lettuce. They’re saturated with oil. They sag in your fingers. Yet despite these unappetizing traits, you still, half-heartedly eat them … because you’re hungry, and they at least provide a cheap kind of pleasure.

Well, as the Stones may have sang had they been culinarily rather than musically inclined, the time is right for a French fry revolution. There’s no need to tolerate this kind of lazy cookery anymore. And I think that instead of swallowing such droopy fare, we—as customers who are paying for meals that should be more than just satisfactory, considering the money we lay out for them—should be sending the stuff back to the kitchen instead of devouring it.

The real question is, however, why are so many restaurants OK with offering this kind of product?

I honestly wonder sometimes if the industry should originate a new role for application to kitchens across America: French fry taster. Damp fries resembling Salvador Dalí’s melting watches in his painting The Persistence of Memory should be recognized immediately by careful chefs … not dispatched to the dining room. Oil must be checked to see if it’s hot enough to sizzle those tiny potato logs. Second-rate sides should not be tolerated.

Yet they often are, and this is one of the problems with contemporary cooking. French fries are taken for granted; they’re generally not the focus of an entrée, but they often can be the most enjoyable component. So why isn’t more—and better—attention paid to getting them right?

All I can say is that I’ve had both good and bad variations on this ideally tuberlicious subject, and I’m hoping that the poorer ones become rarer as time goes by. For that to happen, though, consumers need to be less content with what they get on their plates—and more apt to convey their dissatisfaction with any gastronomic no-nos. Flaccid, sagging French fries are examples of such technical malfeasance, and there’s no reason why we should accept them as the norm.

I’m going to mention the issue to my waiter or waitress next time I encounter it. Because we, as paying diners, deserve to be served delicious, well-prepared food. And restaurants should not be complacent when it comes to providing their provisions. Soggy fries smack of complacency. But only when we point them out will we be able to effect a change.

Let’s all point them out, then. After all, the French fry revolution has got to start sometime, right?

(With apologies to the Stones for the complete travesty I made of their song lyrics.)

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