How Your Salty Fries Will Benefit From Acidic Ingredients

It's tough to think anything could improve on the taste of some salty, golden French fries. Crunchy and fatty on the outside, with a creamy soft interior, fries are one of the most ubiquitous and satisfying ways the world consumes the cheap and humble potato. But if you think of the ways you already dress them up, you'll realize how much a little balance in flavors can turn the excellent into the perfect, and how important acidic ingredients are for doing that. French fries should be good enough on their own, but our taste buds are greedy — they want it all, and acid can be the something extra that satisfies them. 

While some folks might go to bat for mayo or an herby aioli, the classic French fry partner in the U.S. is ketchup, which is a perfect example of acid in action. Both the tomato and vinegar in ketchup are acidic ingredients, and dipping your fries in it adds a tang that helps cut through their oilyness. Far from distracting or overpowering what makes fries good, the extra tasting elements in ketchup, both acidity and sweetness, give you something you'd otherwise miss with plain fries. Even the best-tasting foods can end up a bit one-note when all their flavor is coming from one main source, so even a small amount of acidity can transform them. It also helps that acid can wake up the other existing flavors in your French fries.

Acidic ingredients bring balance to fatty fries

Salt and acid have a lot in common, and both can be used in tandem to make any kind of food taste better. Like salt, acid can be a flavor enhancer, and adding it makes other tastes in your French fries pop because acidic ingredients activate more taste receptors on your tongue. In the case of fries, acidic ingredients also add balance because fries are an extremely rich, fatty food, and the acridity of acid can level that out. Balance in food comes from the fact that certain tastes naturally counteract one another, and fat and acid are two of those, like bitterness and salt. Acidic ingredients provide fries with a wider variety of flavors to achieve the taste harmony we so often crave in our food.

As for actually achieving that harmony? You have a lot of great options beyond the classic ketchup. Almost any tangy condiment like hot sauce or barbeque sauce will do the trick, or you could go full Brit and dash some vinegar straight onto your fries. Anything pickled will be plenty acidic and delicious too, as will garlic or things flavored with garlic, like aioli. There are even some less obvious choices that have some acidity, like parmesan cheese. Acidity is all over the place in your kitchen, so a better plate of fries is always within arms reach.