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Bon Appetit's Karen Yuan on her love of soggy fries


Let's say you're at a fast food joint. You get a burger and fries, but when the meal comes out, the fries - instead of being crispy and crunchy, they're just a bit soggy, sort of limp and oily instead of potato-y. Would you be sad? Well, before you throw them away, Karen Yuan says we need to give more props to soggy fries. She says they are not that bad, and we need to give them a try. She wrote about her love of soggy fries in Bon Appetit and joins us now. Welcome to the program.

KAREN YUAN: Hi. Thanks so much for having me.

RASCOE: So where did your love of soggy fries come from?

YUAN: So soggy fries are so underrated. I will die on this soggy, soggy hill.

RASCOE: On a very mushy hill.

YUAN: This oily, soggy, mushy hill. I have loved soggy fries ever since I was a kid. I was first introduced to them through McDonald's, which has the best ones, in my opinion.

RASCOE: OK. That's interesting, though, because when I think of McDonald's French fries, they're very hard. They're very crispy. That's when they're best. But you're saying the soggy fries that kind of fall to the bottom of the bag - you're saying those are the best.

YUAN: Exactly. So my family really went to McDonald's, and when we did, I always begged for fries. And it would come in this carton of gorgeous, crispy fries, but there would always be a couple of weird ones, like, these long, floppy fries that just are absolutely drenched in oil. You know, you can tell that they're not really meant to be there, but they were.


YUAN: Just fun to eat. And I think there's definitely a very childlike joy to soggy fries.

RASCOE: I'm going to tell you what I think makes the soggy fry good. Then I'm going to ask you. So I eat steak and French fries, right? And then sometimes, the steak has its little juices and stuff. Then you get the fry in the steak juice. Then you eat that soggy fry. Oh, my goodness. Delicious-ious (ph) (laughter).

YUAN: I mean, steak fries are, like, a whole other thing. Like, I think they're so underrated, too, you know? They're just these huge chunks of potato, and then you, yeah, drench them in some kind of sauce. Perfect.

RASCOE: They're awesome. So - well, but what do you think makes a soggy fry good?

YUAN: So I know the thing is soggy fries are definitely kind of sad and depressed looking. Like, by no means am I saying they're the best kind of fries. Maybe they are, but, I mean, they're just delicious in their own way. They're soft and chewy. The mushiness is actually kind of the point, especially, you know, if you have a bit of a crispy to balance it out. They're great in, like, dishes like poutine. They're perfect to cover with gravy, some kind of curry sauce. They're perfect.

RASCOE: So what was the reaction at Bon Appetit when you pitched this story? Because I would think at Bon Appetit they would be like, are you crazy? This is like pitching, like, well-done steak or something. This is like pitching (laughter), like - you know...

YUAN: Oh, 100%. Like pitching, like, rare chicken. Exactly.

RASCOE: Yes. Or something. Something that is just like, we don't do this. We want the fries crispy. So what was their reaction when you pitched this?

YUAN: I definitely got some raised eyebrows from my colleagues. I would say generally, our staff is anti-soggy fry, so I felt like I had to kind of do my part and rally for, you know, the underdog. We were talking about how there's been just generally, actually, a little bit of a trend towards trying to find the perfect crispy fry. That's how all of this came about. There are these food startups that are developing and designing all sorts of, like, delivery containers to make sure that fast food delivery can stay crispy. And I just figured, you know, there's been too much anti-soggy fry rhetoric. It's time to time to speak up for them a little.

RASCOE: So I do have to ask you, though, how do you make leftover fries into good soggy fries?

YUAN: Well, I would definitely not call this a proper recipe, but it's very easy to make your own soggy fries at home. You know, all you have to do is grab your leftover fries, put them in a closed container, seal them up, make sure the moisture is trapped, essentially, and then wait just, like, an hour or so. And they will sog up.

RASCOE: They'll be soggy. You don't have to put them in the microwave or nothing. Just let them be soggy.

YUAN: Exactly. Let them go through their natural course.

RASCOE: Karen Yuan is the culture editor at Bon Appetit and has written an ode to soggy fries. Thank you for being with us.

YUAN: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe
Ayesha Rascoe is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and the Saturday episodes of Up First. As host of the morning news magazine, she interviews news makers, entertainers, politicians and more about the stories that everyone is talking about or that everyone should be talking about.