Thursday, September 06, 2007

fry sauce, shakes and taco salads

One unexpected similarity Erin and I discovered between Utah and Iceland was fry sauce. For those of you who have never experienced the joy of dunking a french fry into this salmon-colored sauce, a trip to Utah may be in order. As a kid growing up in Utah I assumed this concoction of ketchup and mayonnaise was just another standard condiment. It wasn't until my family moved to California for a brief stint in the late 80's that we discovered most fast food restaurants only offer ketchup with fries. If we wanted fry sauce we had to mix it up ourselves by smearing ketchup and the sometimes harder to find mayo packets together on that paper with puzzles on the plastic tray. To this day I can take or leave ketchup but will always pick up fry sauce when offered.

The best fry sauce in Utah is at truly local fast food places such as Crown Burger, Arctic Circle (who claims to invented the stuff), Hires and Iceberg Drive In (not necessarily in that order). But even the national franchises will usually offer it. Although I did learn on Wikipedia that McDonald's stopped carrying it in 1999. I guess I didn't notice since I doubt I have been in a McDonald's in Utah (or elsewhere) more than a half a dozen times since 1999.
Since I don't eat hamburgers (I really dislike the taste and texture and greasieness) and I try to avoid greasy food, I rarely to never eat fast food. I think I have been to Wendy's once this year and that was on my trip to San Diego because it was the only thing open and that is probably the extent of my fast food dining for the year. I don't say this to brag or be demeaning to fast food diners or anything, just to help you understand the contrasting fact that despite this aversion, I really love good french fries with fry sauce. And now, despite having already eaten lunch, I am craving either the turkey club from Hires (where I always had at least one sibling working for a span of about four years, maybe more) with their thick cut french fries and fry sauce or a BLT from Crown Burger with their comparable fries and fry sauce. Mmmmmm, Crown Burger. Oh, and Sconecutter also has great fry sauce and fries - and scone sandwiches! Those are the greasy indulgences I love and miss. I threw Iceberg into the mix for their unbelievable shakes. I'm not really sure why I don't prioritize a trip to Iceberg for a rocky road or cookie dough shake when I'm in town but I think it will top my list on places to go on my next stop-over.

So what does this all have to do with Iceland you ask? Well, in reading my guidebook nearly cover to cover prior to my trip, I discovered a tidbit about a special sauce Iceland uses with their fries that is a combination of ketchup and mayonnaise. I was disappointed when my first meal in the country (a ham and cheese pannini with fries) was served with plain old ketchup. Lunch on day two greeted us with the same disappointment - no fry sauce. Our first encounter with the special sauce was actually on a hot dog, late Sunday night shivering near the water. Later on in the trip, far from Reykjavik, on the Skagi penninsula in the northwest, we were finally served the mix with fries. Iceland's version is slightly different, like maybe they add something else or use a different ratio of ketchup to mayo, but still quite tasty.

We also learned, thanks to the coincidental timing of a Mormon pioneer trek exhibit at the Cultural Museum that there is a sizeable community of Iceland decendents living in Spanish Fork, Utah. This connection and many hours in the car led to a theory. Either Arctic Circle and/or Iceberg were created by some of these Icelanders living in Utah (hence the Arctic and Iceberg names) and one or the other imported (or possibly exported) the sauce in from Iceland. Now Wikipedia indicates that Arctic Circle claims to have invented the stuff in 1948 while Iceland developed it in the 1950s. Either way, I'm claiming a connection and if you know anything to support my theory, please let me know. Somehow I think Emily will know something about this.
Also, since I brought up Arctic Circle I have to reminisce about a story that will only be funny to the people who were there and since a couple of my readers were actually there, I'm going to proceed. In high school, the era before cell phones, my little hodge podge group of friends and I would round each other up on a Friday or Saturday night by piling into someone's car and driving to each house to collect one another and then sort out where to go and what to do. For some reason when we did this no one ever wanted to go to the effort of getting out of the car and walking to the door. Instead, the driver would pull into the driveway, honk and wait impatiently for the summoned friend to run out the door waving parents off with a "I don't know where we're going" as usual. Emily was the best at being collected, probably because she was generally last on the circuit due to the location of her house. She would run out the door before the driver could honk and on one memorable occasion she was waiting in a tree out front. Yes, actually up in the limbs of the tree.
One cold evening, I pulled into Liz's driveway with Michele and Mary already in the car with me and honked as usual, then waited impatiently. Liz worked at the Midvale Arctic Circle and got off work not long before we arrived. Since it was the early 90's and none of us (okay maybe with the exception of Mary and probably Mickey) dedicated much time to such tasks as picking out our clothes or putting on makeup (most of us didn't wear any) since all we wore was oversized Gap jeans, extra large t-shirts topped with a flannel shirt and those nike hiking boots we all seemed to own in varying colors, there was no excuse for the hold up. After more honking didn't nudge her into walking out the door, I sent Mary inside to hurry Liz along.

Michele and I waited and waited and waited some more until I lost all patience, shut off the car and in an unprecedented move stormed into her house to see what the hold up was. There, in the Granquist kitchen, standing at the island with forks frozen half-way to their mouths with guilty grins on their faces as they realized they had been caught were Liz and Mary. They had made Michele and me wait in the cold car for what felt like an hour (okay it was probably 10 to 15 minutes) while they ate a taco salad Liz brought home from Arctic Circle. Ever since that day, when we would be forced to wait for someone one of the girls would comment that the tardy friend must be "eating a taco salad". Now, I can't help but snicker when I hear Arctic Circle or taco salads mentioned.

7 comments:

michele said...

he he. that taco salad story always makes me laugh. also, the memory of emily jumping down out of the tree.
also, i think you might have something about the fry sauce originating in iceland...

tiff said...

I heart fry sauce. I heart it so much.

emily said...

oh, the taco salad...
fry sauce is the only reason to eat fries.

Beck said...

I eat my french fries drenched in vinegar, like a good Canadian.

autumn said...

I can dip almost anything in fry sauce and be very happy about it.

lizzie said...

i miss fry sauce! we had too much fun in high school...

mickey said...

i had fry sauce with my yukon gold fries from a.c. last night it was tasty, yummmmmmm.

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