The Gem State knows how to serve up spuds.
Who ever said french fries are French? Although Thomas Jefferson introduced pommes frites to the United States in 1789 after a visit to France, the people who claim the potato dish as their own are the Belgians.
Today, fries are as American as they are European, thanks in part to Idaho's J.R. Simplot Company, whose 1950s fry-then-freeze method lent itself to mass production.
With the Gem State now growing a third of the nation's potatoes—most notably the fryer-ready russet—maybe it's time to start calling french fries Idaho fries.
"Our potatoes are high in starch and low in moisture," says Idaho Potato Commission President Frank Muir. "So they stay firmer but get fluffier on the inside when cooked."
No wonder some of the West's best fries come from Idaho restaurants. Here are a few. Area code is 208.
CAPONE'S PUB GRILL
Fries are cooked in healthful canola oil. 751 N. Fourth St., Coeur d'Alene, 667-4843, www.caponespub.com .
Potatoes are peeled on-site, cut thinly, then fried once and chilled to "rest" before being fried again until crispy. 303 Walnut Ave. N., Ketchum, 726-3388.
RED FEATHER LOUNGE
Hand-cut fries are cooked in peanut oil, then sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and herbs. 246 N. Eighth St., Boise, 429-6340,www.redfeatherlounge.com .
Potatoes are available in two styles: thick cut ("traditional") and thin sliced ("chip"). 802 S. Oneida St., Rupert, 436-0175.
Fries are delivered by carhop and served with a ketchup-mayonnaise "fry sauce." 302 NE Main St., Blackfoot, 785-5710.
TRAIL CREEK PUB
Russets are double-fried, then dusted with garlic and pepper. 310 S. Main St., Ketchum, 726-3773, www.trailcreekbrewing.com .
Photography by Glenn Oakley
This article was first published in May 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.