31 Posts in 31 Days: #27
Some might say Utahns are a quirky bunch.
We love ice cream.
We love the Osmonds (okay, that's a stretch -- we like them a lot, they're our Jackson Five -- in a manner of speaking).
We do not all have plural wives, but we sure get asked that a lot when we go back East.
We love green Jell-O. With stuff in it (raisins, shredded carrots, baby marshmallows, pineapple, pears, goldfish crackers...)
We love Funeral Potatoes. Everywhere else you would call this dish "Cheesy Potato Casserole" or something like that. And we like to top it off with crunched up potato chips or corn flakes.
But the thing, the piece de resistance, the queen mother of all Utah quirkiness is Fry Sauce.
It is the essential condiment for a complete meal -- not ketchup, not mustard, not relish, not A-1 Steak Sauce, but fry sauce. In Utah fry sauce is ubiquitous. But when you venture outside the state boundaries, and you ask for fry sauce, the person behind the counter of your favorite eatery will likely look at you as though you have just landed from another planet. And if they're feeling generous, they'll toss you a couple of ketchup packets.
Ketchup is not fry sauce.
Fry Sauce was invented in Utah, by the founders of a local fast food chain: Arctic Circle. This Utah origin helps to explain its dull, if utilitarian name: Fry Sauce. In Utah, when it comes to names, we're long on othodoxy and short on imagination (we name our streets 100, 200, 300 etc...)
At the time of it's creation, McDonald's was just coming on line, and the founder of Arctic Circle wanted to do something to make the taste of his burgers unique (at the time burgers were prepared with ketchup, mustard, pickles and onions), so he changed the condiment selection.
And he changed the world. (Okay, maybe not the world, but you have to understand, we are VERY passionate about this stuff). And I am about to unveil, right here on this very blog, to each of you denied this little taste of heaven in your backward and repressive home towns, the recipe for Fry Sauce:
Dip fry, place in mouth.
Roll eyes back in head, curl toes with ecstasy.
There you have it. The secret is out. Now you can know what we in Utah have known since 1950 -- that Fry Sauce is ambrosia.
Nearly every food establishment in Utah, that sells french fries, has some version of fry sauce. Some fiddle with the ratios -- adding more or less of one of the ingredients. Some places even substitute items like barbeque sauce for the ketchup, but if you stray too far from the recipe, it won't be fry sauce, and the people will not eat it. Franchises new to Utah learn quickly that if you have fries, and no fry sauce, you will have a lot of unsold french fries.
When the Winter Olympics were here in 2002, we even had an official fry sauce trading pin (we had a green Jell-O pin too.)
Enterprising souls have even bottled and sold fry sauce in the grocery stores. This is where I draw the line -- surely you have ketchup and mayonnaise in your refrigerator, and if you can't mix up your own fry sauce, you have bigger issues than your condiment dilema.
So, there you have it. Maine may have it's lobster, New Orleans may have jambalaya, New York it's pizza but for pure, unadulterated, universal food love, nothing -- NOTHING -- touches fry sauce in Utah.