The last French fry

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, October 6, 2011

If there were a sign over my head for the number of French fries I’ve eaten in the course of my life, the number would undoubtedly rival the one on the customers-served sign at McDonald’s. I’ve loved them from the very first time I slathered them with ketchup and salt.

Then, just the other day, as I was enjoying an order of fries, I just stopped. It was as if the last precious breath of French-fried, childlike glee escaped from my mouth during mastication. Whatever the case, a monumental change in my diet may have taken place. And I’ve never been more afraid in my life.

If a man can’t find joy in the perfect order of French fries, the staple of every diner, drive-in and dive in the country, what good is he as a foodie? Try as I might to find a place in my heart and stomach for them lately, I simply cannot.

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What am I to have with my thick, juicy burgers when I hit the drive-thru? After all, burgers are still a staple of the American foodscape, and I haven’t lost my appetite for them yet. And it’s not as if I can just go out for burgers and celery sticks. Some things just are not done.

Losing my taste for the golden fried sticks of glory may put a few minutes back onto my life’s time clock, but I’m simply not ready to say goodbye to them. So, as I wait patiently for my taste buds to find their center and put fries back on my taste map, I looked to my trusty Men’s Health newsletter for guidance.

I was desperate for some decent restaurant alternatives to “a side of fries,” but I had learned to be wary of this newsletter’s advice when it warned me to avoid “fair food” a few months ago.

Miraculously, just as I was seriously considering sending it to the digital trash bin, the Men’s Health “Eat this, Not that” newsletter exposed me to a few new options to consider when ordering out.

Just because fries seem like the best possible complement to a nice double cheeseburger doesn’t mean there aren’t other choices. There’s fried cauliflower, fried green beans and, of course, wonderful baked beans. You’ll notice two of these side items are fried. All I can say is, you can’t expect a man to give up fried foods cold turkey. It’s just inhumane.

Now I see that if my love for French fries never returns, I can survive with the help of healthier, more creative side items. My body will surely thank me.

But as the man who doesn’t believe in love just needs to find the right lady, it may only take the right batch of potatoes to bring me back to warm, salty embrace of French fries.

This time, though, I’ll approach them with a respectable sense of moderation. Really.