Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Western Fries...only in the East?

On many occasions during my 30+ years growing up and living in the Baltimore area I ate what I knew as Western Fries...either as an accompaniment to a meal, or sometimes as a "snack" to tie me over till an actual meal. Western fries, generally speaking, are thick cut potato wedges that are seasoned (usually some form of batter) and deep fried (of course!). They are quite common in the Baltimore area as it seems like quite a few establishments have them, or some sort of variation of them on the menu; the best of which (in my opinion) is the Royal Farms convenience stores.

Yes, you read that right. I said Royal Farms. For those of you that don't know, Royal Farms is a convenience store chain that has 120 stores spread around Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia. They have a deli/grill section that has all kinds of foods to go...sandwiches, wraps, salads, fried chicken, and various side dishes. Their fried chicken is pretty good, but their Piece de Resistance is definitely their Western Fries. Now, while I was still living back on the east coast I just assumed that Western Fries originated in the West. I mean, they're called WESTERN fries for goodness sake. However, in the 2+ years that I have now lived on the West coast I have yet to see a single place offering these so called "Western" Fries. So what gives?

Determined to get to the bottom of it all, I did a quick search on Google for "Western Fries" to see if I could find out the origins of the Western Fry. Unfortunately, I didn't really have much luck. Of the results that came back, there were a few that were blog posts or reviews regarding Western Fries and most of them seemed to be based in the Baltimore area. Interesting. It would seem that these so-called "Western" Fries aren't so western after all.

For Christmas, my wife and I took a week long trip back East to spend the Holidays with Family and Friends. Of course, since finding Western Fries in LA is like panning for gold in Alaska, one of my required stops during the trip was one of the many Royal Farms' to satisfy a 2 year craving. Lucky for me, one of the newest additions to the Royal Farms locations happens to be right around the corner from some of my close friends' houses so fulfilling that requirement was quite easy. One fine evening while hanging out and playing Call of Duty, I made a quick run over to Royal Farms to see if the Western Fries were as good as I remembered them being. Thankfully, I wasn't disappointed.

I purchased 2 family packs of Western Fries. One for myself and one for a friend. The family pack has approximately 21 thick-cut fries in it and is packed in one of their chicken boxes. Were they as good as I remembered? Oh yes...they definitely were. The beauty of the Royal Farms Western Fry is definitely the batter. It's seasoned and salty and carries so much flavor that I just can't get enough of it. It probably is loaded with MSG or something, but who cares. It's not like I'll eat these things every day (although I could!). They're definitely worth the oily fingers and ensuing thirst. Unfortunately, they're not available in the West. At least, I haven't been able to find them yet. What's up with that? If you happen to know of a place, definitely let me know! LA has A LOT to offer the foodie, but not having Western Fries in the West just seems to be a little ridiculous!

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