This is the first time I’ve been able to get a TV on the weekends before 8pm now that I have a device that let’s me watch over the air channels in HD on my computer and I decided I had to watch the World Series. The last baseball game I attended was in the 80’s and it was Giants vs. Dodgers at Candlestink Park. As a kid, I used to go to Giants and A’s games all the time so I have to compare the World Series today to what I saw as a kid.
Well, it’s a completely different game now and it just kind of seems like a boxing match where you get in close enough and knee the other guy in the groin hoping no one notices. Last game I was at when Mark McGuire would come up to bat all buffed out on steroids you wanted to see him knock one into the left field stands. Just hearing the entire crowd go silent with the crack of the bat against the ball until the fans were scrambling for the ball and then hearing a collective HOLY SH*T from the fans made it all the more reason to go. I haven’t seen that in the three games I’ve watched so far. The outfielders could pretty much be sitting on lawn chairs for most of the game only have to get up once or twice during the inning.
The secret today is with the pitchers. They have a small window to throw through and they always aim high, low, left or right just to be at the edge of the safe zone. Occasionally they’ll offer a free ball, but they usually seem to try and get them to 3 balls 2 strikes tiring them out before they move for a strike out. There’s very little action left in the game today and now I know why Mixed Martial Arts has gotten so popular — at least people kick some ass there. I remember being at an A’s game as a kid and I can’t remember who it was, but he smacked the ball right into the pitcher’s gut. Everyone in the stadium yelled OH! That’s the way baseball used to be.
The price has gone up exponentially on tickets and food at the stadiums. My Mom’s best friend used to go to baseball games all the time and I’d get invited and my Mom would give her $5 to cover my getting in and food. We’d get a hot dog [get your red hot’s here!] and a coke and then later we’d get peanuts and cracker jack. If you had a $10 bill you could get in, get fed and have change in your pocket. Granted that was a long time ago, but now that you have all these artisanal, gourmet food companies supplying the food and drink at the game it just raises the price even more for going out to the game. So I watched it all on TV and ate a hot dog with a coke and finished it off with some peanuts and cracker jack. Maybe I’m becoming a grumpy old man, but I miss the old days. The song Take me out to the ball game just doesn’t seem to fit anymore, so I rewrote it for modern baseball:
Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
buy me some sushi and chardonnay
look at the kiss cam that couple is gay
so it’s root, root, root for the home team
if they don’t win it’s a fight
cause it’s $20, $30, $40 for food
at the old ball game
Dan Gordon of Gordon-Biersch invented garlic fries when he was studying in Germany. Sadly though when he came back to the US and opened up the first Gordon-Biersch restaurant with Dean Biersch it wasn’t in San Francisco, but in Palo Alto. Garlic fries though didn’t get much attention until they opened up their San Francisco restaurant and started selling them at AT&T Park and that was the day that baseball and garlic fries got married together.
Everyone has garlic fries now and it’s no wonder because they’re so easy to make. It’s a 3-2-1 recipe that even an idiot can make. Take 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley whip it all together and toss it on some freshly deep fried potato bits. Gilroy who hosts it’s own garlic festival sells them as well, but they from what I’ve heard bake, not deep fry the potatoes.
Nothing is as good in it’s greasy goodness as a deep fried strip of potato. Crispy and crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. When you add the oil, garlic and parsley to it, it just becomes even better. It wasn’t until the late 90’s that garlic fries made an introduction onto the San Francisco food scene and they made an instant hit. I don’t get to eat them too often because when I do I tend to eat too many and my wife banishes me to the other room for a three days because I tend to reek of garlic. It is a fate that is understandably worth it for me since I happen to love garlic and will add it to just about anything. The secret to adding the garlic to the fries is a wide bowl with the fries in it then you toss in the mixture then you have to learn that special one hand flick of the wrist that tosses them up and over, like you see a professional chef flip an omelette. It takes a bit of practice, but you don’t want to stir them around because then you break up the fries. The flick/flip does the job much better.
I do remember in the 80’s there was a shop at Ghiradelli Square called Pomme Frites that sold french fries with a variety of dipping sauces, many of them based off the Belgian tradition of mayonnaise on fries [don’t knock it until you’ve tried it], but there was no garlic in any of their sauce blends. It seems odd to me since now it just seems like such an obvious addition to add to the fries.
I have a small deep fryer that I’ll probably use to test my own riff on this dish. The trick supposedly in making the best fries to fry them twice and starting with russet potatoes that you’ve skinned and soaked in cold water for one to eight hours before cutting them into 1/4″ strips. First at a low temperature of 325° to oil cook them, then drain and flash fry them at a higher temperature of 375° to sear the outsides while keeping the insides moist and crispy. The sizzle when they hit the oil is actually the water inside the potatoes coming out of the fries so if you’ve cooked them to the point they stopped sizzling the water is out and the oil gets sucked in through reverse osmosis and those are some bad greasy fries.
I’m glad to see that San Francisco isn’t resting on it’s laurels with rice-a-roni, sourdough bread and dungeness crab. I’m glad that we can come up with a few new traditions in food that we can claim as ours and that change the world around us. Hell, even Trader Joe’s sells them now, but they’re still no comparison to the original.