Saturday, May 24, 2008
Death by Gravy Fries
When I die I don't want to go by injection, natural causes, or some blaze of glory that will, no doubt, seem like a great idea seconds before my final words, which would probably be unprintable anyway. Nope. I want a very specific end. No rockets red glare, no poignant bedside confessions, no tragic self sacrifice. I want death by gravy fries.
Dude... have you ever had them?
My dad is a southern gentleman. I was really lucky to come from a diverse family. Even though I grew up lace curtain Irish way up nawth in Bawstin (actually 36 miles south, but everything in New England is considered greater-Bawstin), my father's family was always dear to me. We didn't see them often, but when we did it was a long weekend or 5 days of glorious southern hospitality and great southern cooking. My aunts and Granny had just as much to do with my cooking skills and tastes as my Irish mother, aunts, and grandmother. So I make great scones, soda bread, and boiled dinners. But my chicken and dumplings kick butt, too. And when I have a craving, it's just as likely to be a slab of country ham on a buttermilk biscuit as it is to be colcannon with extra butter.
Gravy fries are a decadent desire instilled in me by southern diners. They come in varieties: you can get them with white sawmill gravy, dark left-over-pot-roast gravy (more often in Maine or rural Massachusetts, I think), or with red-eye gravy. You can get them slightly soft or crispy. But once you get them, you're hooked.
Your arteries will not be thanking you. But your taste-buds will throw a party in your honor. There's something absolutely glorious here... salty, rich gravy combined with crispy (or even slightly soggy) potato slices. My favorite? The Halfway Cafe in Marshfield. They just moved to town, but I had already acquired my addiction in their Dedham and Canton stores thanks to my friend Maria, and her husband, Mac, who is another southern gentleman. They serve them crispy, still in skin, with dark pot-roast style gravy. I can eat them by the bucket.
In fact, this week I was a little under the weather and the one thing I managed to eat was a big order of gravy fries. Probably should have made me sick, but it put me to sleep with a gentle smile on my face. Probably a little gravy smudge, too, but I don't even care... so help me.
So what's your favorite indulgence? What can stop you dead in your tracks with one wiff of savory essence from the kitchen? Do tell!