This week, I want to share with you a subject which is both deeply personal and difficult for me to talk about. Emotions run high whenever this topic arises but I make no apologies for my stance, as controversial as it may be. This is the hill on which I am prepared to die. There is a truth that many are unable or unwilling to acknowledge and it is this:
Sweet potato fries are an abomination.
I first aired this entirely correct opinion on Twitter, where I was met with outrage and threats of being blocked. People sent graphic images of the sweet potato ‘fries’ they had eaten, imploring me to see reason and retract my statement. I will not. In fact, I am doubling down on my assertion.
I believe that the merits of my argument stand alone and need no further justification, but for those who need my reasons, I am prepared to spit pure facts.
Firstly, let me clarify something. I am not against sweet potatoes. I am Jamaican, I think that there is an unspoken law which dictates that if I slander sweet potatoes my membership will be revoked. I very much want to remain part of a club that counts Usain Bolt, Mary Seacole, and Shaggy as members. So let me say that when served in the right way, sweet potatoes are delicious. Roasted as a side dish with rice and peas? Yes! Sweet potato pudding? Sign me up.
What I will not tolerate, what I find offensive to my sense of good taste is the idea that they can be used as a substitute for fries. No.
What you are looking for in good fries cannot be delivered with a sweet potato. Good fries are hot, crisp, and salty. The first bite delivers a satisfying crunch of crispy skin giving way to fluffy, delicate potato. The taste is present, yet inoffensive, it does not overpower the burger or wings or cheese toastie that it is accompanying. The job of fries is to deliver additional texture and salt without upstaging the main player. Fries are a gracious wingman, there to plug any holes of appetite based dissatisfaction. They are the thoughtful and attentive waiter: their presence only noticeable by their ability to unobtrusively improve your dining experience.
Note - Fries are not to be confused with chips, which are robust and fully up to the job of being the main attraction of a meal.
Sweet potato fries are the TGI’s waiter of the early ’00s. The ones whose uniform seemed to consist of only stripes and pin badges. Who saw each interaction as an opportunity to put to use some aspect of their musical theatre training.
A sweet potato resents being made into a fry. The job is beneath them. It shows its displeasure by storing up the heat it undergoes during cooking so that its core temperature is never less than 1000 degrees. Only once it has removed the skin from the roof of your mouth does it feel any sense of justice. At the same time, the sweet potato refuses, point blank, to be delightfully crisp. They are unpleasantly soggy or burnt shards of granite, there is no in-between. The biggest error in trying to get the sweet potato to be a fry is that IT IS SWEET! Sweet, sugary fries? What is wrong with you? The flavour is all wrong. I suspect the people who choose sweet potato fries also enjoy a Blossom Hill White Zinfandel Rose. They order a Sex on the Beach and complain that they can taste the alcohol.
Those who jump to the defense of the sweet potato fry, I ask you to look deep inside yourself and ask, truthfully, whether you truly enjoy them or are just labouring under the mistaken belief that they are the healthy option. Because they are not. Not really.
Give up the charade, I beg of you.
Until we stop ordering, them they will continue to feature on menus across the land. Do the right thing, let them go the way of suede mash and the prawn cocktail.
Please do not talk to me about the travesty that is a sweet potato wedge. I will not be baited on this issue.