Humbly, Blake Lingle says he's no historian, merely a fry cook. But his new book, Fries! (Princeton Architectural Press)—a quirky, compact volume filled with everything from french fry lore to step-by-step methods for making every type of fry you can imagine—is hard evidence to the contrary. As the man behind "The Fry Algorithm"—yes, that is a real, and beautiful, thing—Lingle should probably allow himself to bask in his deep-fried accomplishments a bit more.
But, technically, he's right. The Boise, Idaho resident is a fry cook—and in the heart of potato country, no less. His Boise Fry Company restaurant (there's a location in Portland, Oregon, as well) proudly refers to the burgers as the side dishes, because there's no dethroning the fry on Lingle's watch.
While you'll have to pick up your own copy to take in all the serious fry knowledge that Lingle drops, here, he shares eight fascinating facts he learned while compiling the book.
1. One of the first recipes for a classic fry is found in Thomas Jefferson's writings between 1801 and 1809.
2. The original fry sauce was fish brine!
3. Potatoes were long thought to cause leprosy, narcosis, sterility, and general immorality. They were also first used as animal petroleum, and food for llamas and pigs, among other animals.
4. George W. Bush was once tricked into calling the Canadian prime minister "Jean Poutine."
5. The number of fry variations is as infinite as the imagination. The three key players in American fry production—McCain Foods, the J.R. Simplot Company, and Lamb Weston—each offer one-hundred-plus frozen varieties alone. These include regular, shoestring, curly, tornado, waffle, cube, crinkle, and puff.
6. Belgium has the most storied, fanatical, and ravenous relationship with fries, including the most fry dispensaries and a higher consumption than any other country in the world.
7. Fries can fend off global warming while fixing the energy crisis. Fry oil easily recycles to biodiesel, and biodiesel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, biodegradation, and deforestation.
8. Scientists from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, in conjunction with the European Space Agency, are attempting to make fries in space.
Fries! An Illustrated Guide to the World's Favorite Food (Princeton Architectural Press) is out now, $17, papress.com.