They eat MAYONNAISE with their fries.
I adore how each country has its own condiment for fries. In the states we are ketchup central (though I am a bit jealous that our neighbors to the north, aka Canada, have ketchup without corn syrup. Did you know that? Due to laws that protect consumers their Coca-cola, Heinz ketchup, etc. are made without corn syrup. But those same items in the states come with the nasty stuff). Note to my relatives living in Canada: for Christmas I would love a case of Heinz ketchup. Tastes the same, bottled under the same name, but sans corn syrup. That would take care of my fries for at least a year! Oops---I digress. Back to the fries. In London, they eat MAYONNAISE with their fries; I am aware that other countries favor malt vinegar and/or gravy. Have you heard of others?
Actually, it was at Byron (remember, where we ate Proper Hamburgers) where the little ramekin of mayonnaise accompanied some lovingly prepared fries. And we stared at it for a moment. And decided "when in Rome," or in this case "when in London, eat as they do in London." So we tucked in. And it was... really good. To be fair, it was not jarred mayonnaise: it was fresh.
Which pulls me---happily---full circle. From eating fries and talking of London to sharing a recipe from culinary school at home, in Seattle. We made mayonnaise last week! What fun timing to have just whisked my arm to death making mayonnaise in class, to jet-setting across the globe to a humble little table in London, only to be served handmade mayonnaise?! I enjoyed it, and appreciated the effort of whomever back in the kitchen took time to lovingly prepare mayonnaise to partner with my fries. Thanks.
So if you want an alternative experience to corn syrupy ketchup and don't have relatives in Canada to deliver you a case (truth be told, you can now buy organic ketchup in the states, sans corn syrup), you are only about a thousand whisks away from made-from-scratch mayonnaise to go with those fries.
Mayonnaise 1 egg yolk (if I had the choice: fresh, organic, cage-free...) 7 oz (just under a cup) vegetable oil 1 tsp prepared OR dried mustard 1-2 T fresh lemon juice 1-2 T water Salt & White Pepper, to taste Optional, choose one: dash of Tabasco, dash of Worcestershire, dash cider vinegar
Use a whisk with a big head and fine wires; place saucepan on damp towel, on counter. Fill bottom third of saucepan with water: this is your 'extra hand.' On top of saucepan, place another towel, then a stainless steel mixing bowl. That will hold your bowl in place, so you you can whisk with one hand, and pour oil and liquids with the other. Make sense? Place yolk, mustard, a tsp of lemon juice in bowl, and whisk. Plan on whisking for the next 10 minutes.
Add a few measly drops of oil and whisk. This is your critical moment, when the emulsion comes together, where you are convincing the mayonnaise to be mayonnaise. Add a few more drops and whisk. Once it looks like it is going to come together and seems to develop a little loft, you may pour oil in a slow thin stream. WHISKING all the while. While whisking your arm will get tired; but notice if the mayonnaise seems to feel thick---harder to whisk. THIS is when you want to toss in a tsp of lemon juice here, a tsp of water there. Keep the oil coming, adding the lemon juice or water as needed, whenever the mayo gives you resistance.
Now this is key: don't whisk the bowl into the mayonnaise. You are whisking fast this whole time, super fast, but not hard. If you whisk hard you will scrape the bottom of the bowl too hard and by golly, your mayonnaise will turn gray. Gray mayonnaise is not appealing. You want white, bright, slightly lemony mayonnaise. So whisk fast, not hard. The final note is this: when it is done, it is done. You will have 7-8 ounces of oil whisked in, it looks great, then stop. You can over mix and kill the poor thing. Leave it. Besides, your arm is probably killing you. You DO need to perfect it, though, and bring it to its' height: add coarse salt and white pepper to taste. Now taste it, and decide if it needs more salt or pepper, more lemon juice---or a dash of Tabasco.
Your fries never had it so good.