Cretan-style fried potatoes

Cretan-style fried potatoes

The first time I heard Stelios Trilyrakis tell a customer, "Don't underestimate the fries, sir", I couldn't hold back my laughter; quite noisy, I would say. Not because his fries are not really worth it - they are worth it.

But for several decades, the fried potato has been a constant on any self-respecting family dinner table or neighbourhood tavern.

With the excuse of  "fries are for the kids", they took the place of bread in the sauces that called for their dips, as a side dish for meatballs and grilled meats, the place of the meze that cleanses the mouth before moving on to another dish.

And almost always, there was a repeat order, "Another fries, the kids ate them". Fortunately, there was no mandatory time limit for childhood back then.

But what is the difference in the way of Crete? I wouldn't be referring to him if the tavernas of the rest of Greece kept the memory of the old practice alive and didn't insist on "boil, fry, let cool, fry again" techniques to make them crispy and tender.

So the Cretan way - and many "old" ones throughout Greece - is simple: Lots and lots of good extra virgin olive oil in a deep frying pan on medium to low heat, where the potatoes essentially boil before they form their crispy, golden crust. Then, coarse sea salt with grated thyme or oregano.

Bon appetit!

Nana Darioti is a columnist for Olive Magazine.

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