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Jul 30, 2008 05:33 PM

Is there a difference between pommes frites and french fries?

Every time I eat pommes frites, they taste a little different than any other sort of fry I've ever had. Is there any sort of different way that pommes frites are prepared?

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  1. Sure there's a difference- about 6 bucks!

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    I suspect the difference you may be detecting is the type of fat used, possibly duck fat, and done with the twice fried method.

    6 Replies
    1. re: TongoRad

      french fries are often twice fried

      1. re: thew

        er...pommes frites are often twice fried.... french fries are what McDonald's serves!

        yes, the oil fried in, the prep method and the double fry huge contribute to the difference. Type of potato well.

        pommes souffles are like puffed exquisite tasty chips....Oh I could wax on the potato goodness.

        Micky D's makes French fries; Bourdain makes pommes frites.

        Drats you, now I am craving!

        1. re: Quine

          bourdain might argue with that. he loves a good french fry

          1. re: thew

            Emphasis on good. Names have nothing to do with taste, and a great "french fried pertater" (thank you Billy Bob Thornton) is a thing of beauty no matter what you call it.

            You would hope, though, that somebody who charges premium prices and talks to their spuds in French would make the extra effort to serve a higher-quality product than you might expect at the local fry-o-rama. Of course, if your local fry-o-rama delivers especially good french fries, please don't hold out on us...

            1. re: alanbarnes

              as long as we understand that "pomme fritte" no more guarantees a good well made potato than "french fry" precludes it.
              i mean i might just as easily assume that one who francofies his francofries might do so to gussy up an inferior product.

              1. re: thew

                We're definitely on the same page. I tend to correlate nomenclature and price point, and would be more offended by a bad $6 order of frites than by a bad $1 order of fries. But when it comes right down to it, ignore the name. Bring on the chow.

    2. Fried apples vs potatoes? <grin> Dunno - I always thought pommes frites was what the French call french fries.

      1. Pommes frites = french fries. But someplace that calles them frites instead of fries is, IMHO, more likely to do things a little different. Maybe even better. Now once you have a bunch of mad Belgians opening franchises everywhere and competing on price, all bets are off. But in the meantime...

        First, as noted above, the type of fat matters a lot. A place that has "pommes frites" on the menu is much more likely to be frying them in animal fat (tallow, lard, or, best of all, duck or goose fat). With the accompanying improvement in flavor.

        Another point that's been made is that the double-fry method results in a different texture. Fluffier inside, crispier outside. But it takes extra work, and so is more likely to be found in a place that focuses on quality and can charge a little more for its product.

        Finally, though, there are a few places that age their potatoes before cutting and frying them. And in my limited experience, these places all call their fries "pommes frites" (or even "pommes souffles" if they can consistently get the potato slices to puff up). Regardless of puffiness, though, the aged potatoes have a distinct, more intense flavor than fresh ones.

        When it comes right down to it, though, you can call 'em what you want. Just don't call me late to dinner.

        8 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          Can you elaborate on "aged potatoes". Sounds interesting and maybe worth doing at home?

          1. re: bkhuna

            Exactly what I was thinking BK


            1. re: bkhuna

              There is no secret about "aged" potatoes in crispy FF or PF. Moist potatoes, freshly dug, will not crisp up as much as drier ones. Wouldn't say you have to "age" potatoes like fine wine, or till they sprout and turn green; but, you do want potatoes that are somewhat drier (and older) than newly dug ones. According to James Beard, the best choice is a russet potato.

              1. re: bkhuna

                Just keep your russets in a cool, dark place. They'll shrink a little and the skin will toughen up. If you can peel the skin away with your thumbnail, the potato is still to fresh; if the flesh has gone soft, the potato is too old.

                1. re: bkhuna

                  Aged potatoes sound so much more sophisticated than old potatoes.

                2. re: alanbarnes

                  Ah, alanbarnes, you would love Montreal if only for the fries: omnipresent purveyors of both the French and Belgian styles.

                  Aged potatoes are higher in sugar, hence their sweeter flavour. Quebec fries, especially those used in poutine are limp, greasy, mahogany diet-busters.

                  1. re: mrbozo

                    If AB hasn't had poutine in Montreal, he must hop a plane right now and surender to this devilishy sinister concoction.


                    1. re: Davwud

                      Perhaps. But not every Montréalais likes poutine; I find it a waste of good frites. I prefer the Belgian type.

                3. There are no secrets to this. The difference is that fries are made by someone who has no interest in what he's doing and frites are made by someone who is taking care to try his best at what he's doing.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: yayadave

                    So by extension someone who eats fromage cares about what she's eating, while someone who eats cheese doesn't?

                    1. re: small h

                      Not exactly. But someone who eats cheese cares and somone who eats "semi-dairy cheese food product" doesn't. By extension.

                      1. re: yayadave

                        But frites MEANS fries. Which you know. And I know you know. I'm just trying to figure out whether you mean that calling food by a non-English name means that food is somehow superior. If so, I must respectfully disagree.

                        1. re: small h

                          Of course not. But poor food is prepared by people who don't know or care about what they are doing and good food is prepared by people who do care and, therefore, take the trouble to know. It does not matter if the 'tatters are called fries, frites, or chips, poor ones are prepared by ...

                          And I know that you know that. You're just messin' with me. TeeHee

                          On another current thread, chowhounds are arguing over the relative authenticity of lasagna made in Bologna, Friuli, and Calabria or NYC and New Zealand. All this worrying about semantics. If the lasagna or 'tatters are prepared by someone who cares, just call them "good eats."

                          We should have an "Authentic Chowhound Seal of Approval."

                          1. re: yayadave

                            I worry about semantics the way other people worry about FDA warnings.

                            But there's still no satisfactory answer here to the OP's question. So I'll posit that s/he associates frites with white tablecloths and fries with white paper sacks, and notes - correctly, I think - that things taste different depending on where you eat them. Maybe?

                            1. re: small h

                              Or maybe the OP only eats frites in Paris and only eats fries at TGIFridays.

                              If you want to be punctilious about the words and their meanings, "fries,frites, and chips" all just mean fried potatoes in the context of this thread. Anything beyond that is inference. The inferences add character to language; the inferences add missunderstanding to language.

                              Are we still on chowhound?

                              1. re: yayadave

                                You're 100% right - it all means fried potatoes. Which is why I find the original question so mystifying. Which is better, uni or sea urchin? ZOMG I don't know THEY'RE THE SAME THING!

                                (breathes quietly for a few seconds)

                                So! Does what you call something affect how it tastes? This has probably been covered somewhere.

                  2. People who eat Pomme Frites don't use Ketchup. I personally like good, homemade mayonnaise. Something I pickup up from the Belgian relatives.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: bkhuna

                      Yeah, anything but ketchup, please. I was dipping mine in mayonnaise before I even knew it was all the rage somewhere else! My three favorites, from three different restaurants, are The Hamlet's tartar sauce, the Oinkster's (in Eagle Rock, CA) aioli, and the sour cream/horseradish sauce from a long-defunct steak'n'ribs place in Nashville. Arby's Horsey Sauce ain't bad either, but they don't have either fries or frites!

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        A nice garlicky homemade tzatziki likes fries too.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          In the Nashville days, did anyone ever venture north into Ky, and return with the treasured Frisch's tartar sauce, for the fries?


                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Skinny crisp fries with good ketchup is wonderful. Don't let misplaced disdain for ketchup get in the way.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              sandy, when i saw your post, i thought that i need to rework the "jerry maguire" line, "you had me at bearnaise!"

                              bearnaise with pommes frites. possibly the best combo of food ever! (honestly, there are few peers).

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Hee. (A second "hee" might be redundent)

                                1. re: alkapal

                                  Bearnaise is the way to go! Ugh, craving started.

                                  1. re: ForFoodsSake

                                    i know; we're all gonna be porkers for just reading this dang thread again! LOL

                                    food sake, be sure you see that recipe for potatoes lorette near the current end of this thread. wowza.

                              2. re: bkhuna

                                A-1 sauce is good, too, and lower in fat that a nice aioli or mayonnaise, if you need that.