- Food and Cooking
Fry Sauce, A Utah Delicacy
A Utah Delicacy
Fry Sauce is a Utah delicacy that is much underappreciated outside the borders of the state. I was first introduced to its magnificence during my 7-year stay in Utah Valley, which is home to Provo, Utah, the location of my alma mater, Brigham Young University.
Fry sauce is a condiment usually served with french fries, and is made of a mixture of mayonnaise and ketchup, and sometimes a touch of mustard. Several local hamburger joints in Utah serve fry sauce, and their exact recipes are a closely guarded secret. Though one self-proclaimed Utah foodie (now there's an oxymoron!) says that the recipe is two parts mayonnaise to one part ketchup. Remember this is a state where half the population is sleeping on buckets of wheat, and the other half is serving jello or brownies made from bean flour for dessert.
What on earth would drive a person to douse a dish that is deep-fried and heavily salted with a sauce that is two-thirds fat and 1 part sugar? Is this a recipe for cardiac arrest? You betcha. Are Utahns out of their minds? Perhaps. Is fry sauce an epicurean delicacy equal only to chocolate and truffles? Oh my heck! Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Fry sauce is da bomb, and almost as addictive as caffeinated beverages like Diet Pepsi and Dr. Pepper.
Forgive me for a moment while I go into a purely self-serving and personal detour down memory lane. When we lived in Utah, our favorite place to partake of this delectable ambrosia was Burgers Supreme, AKA Apollo Burger. This place has the best burgers and fries around, and baklava. The aroma of hamburger, grilled to smoky perfection drew you in the doors. I never met a french fry there I didn't like. Their french fries are served hot and crisp--not those anemic, limp, spindly things you find at well-known national franchises--these are the real thing.
At Burgers Surpreme the fry sauce is served in large pump dispensers with condiment cups. We were regulars there, and for 5 or 6 years after we moved away from Provo, we returned with our small children. They still remembered us. We were REALLY GOOD CUSTOMERS. But back to fry sauce.
Since I have never tasted wine as a Mormon, I can only surmise, but I believe epicures all over the world will soon discover the heart healthy benefits of fry sauce, as the full-bodied flavor of this wonderful condiment can only be compared to the nuanced flavors of a full-bodied red. And although it is high in calories, I would like to suggest that fry sauce is not only delicious, but healthy. Everyone knows that fry sauce is made from mayonnaise, which is made from a healthy blend of natural oils and eggs. Eggs, once thought to be insidiously unhealthy, have been proven as a super-food. And tomatoes, found in ketchup, are high in lycopine and other important heart healthy nutrients. This perfect blend of tomatoes, fat, sugar and salt make fry sauce an uber-food, with powerful, aphrodisiac qualities.
If you don't believe me, you should walk down the streets of Provo Utah in the summertime. You will see many young couples carrying paper bags containing meals with french fries and fry sauce, to go. These young couples are under the spell--of fry sauce.
I have a theory about Utah and its attraction to ridiculously fatty foods. At one time, Utahns were the highest per-capita consumers of ice cream, too, though I'm not sure if they were able to hold on to that dubious claim to fame. I think it goes back to the Utah Mormon Pioneers' early years of deprivation in the Beehive State. Many of the Utah settlers were immigrants from Denmark, England, and other Northern European countries. They came to America almost penniless, and pulled their belongings in handcarts across the American plains and the mountains of the American West. Some of the settlers didn't time their journey very well, and many men, women, and children in the Willie and Martin Handcart companies froze to death in a deadly early winter. After the settlers got to Utah, many of the early pioneers suffered through several winters of scarcity and shortages while they built up the infrastructure of the late nineteenth century settlements using hard labor. This time of hunger and deprivation made a lasting impression on the generations that followed, and is now part of the Utah ethos.
Another theory of fry sauce origins goes to the high incidence of large families in Utah. Fry sauce packs in more calories at no extra cost. A great boon to stretch a family's fast food dollar.
According to my husband, who came to Utah from Louisiana, fry sauce was served there as a dipping sauce for shrimp, and an alternative to cocktail sauce. For him, Utah's unique cultural offerings were viewed merely as a natural progression in his culinary and human development. To me, fry sauce came as something of a surprise. At first I viewed it with some disgust, but after I got over my aversion, I came to believe it was second only to chili when served as a condiment for french fries. (Mmmm....chili cheese fries!)
In this light, I think we can all agree that fry sauce is a perfectly appropriate addition to any healthy family meal, and could be tried in a number of new and interesting ways. Why not as a topping for cauliflower, broccoli, or carrots? How about a secret ingredient for chocolate cake or breakfast muffins? What next? Fry sauce-flavored ice cream? You want fries with that?