1. Parky's, Oak Park, IL
    My cousins lived down the street and whenever we'd go to visit, my grandpa and I would go get chicago dogs and french fries. The fries come in a brown paper bag that slowly turns translucent with grease. They are unparalleled. When I moved to Chicago for school I took a pilgrimage involving two trains and a bus to get Parky's fries. It was a ritual, a rite of passage. They were a part of my childhood and now they were a part of my adulthood. Just like Chicago.
  2. Coney Island Wiener House No. 1, Sioux City, IA
    My grandparents are from Sioux City. When I was a kid, we'd visit family there often: my great grandparents, my great aunts and uncles. Every visit included at least one trip for coneys and fries. This was part of my childhood and part of my mom's childhood and part of my grandparents' childhood.
  3. The Submarine Tender, Forest Park, IL
    When I was in 2nd grade, my mom and I lived in a little apartment at 210 Brown. This was our first apartment after living with my grandparents and then my aunt and uncle. Across the street was the Submarine Tender, a classic Chicago Greek fast food joint with bright blue booths and island murals on the walls. They had these garlic butter fries that came wrapped in a paper cone. I can still taste them.
  4. Chips from the shop down the street, Canberra, Australia
    When I was 11, I lived in Canberra, Australia with my mom for a year. It was an amazing year but we were also pretty intensely homesick for the first few months. We combatted this with ritual weekend trips to the shops down the street, where we'd buy a hot, salty packet of chips wrapped in newsprint. I'd often walk down by myself with 3 dollar coins in my pocket to get an order, and walk back with the warm packet held against my chest. Pure comfort. Here's a pic of me and my chips.
  5. McDonalds, Ames, IA
    The summer after my senior year of high school I got a job at McDonalds, working the breakfast shift. I had a crush on a boy named Josh. We talked about ska music and how everything we served at McDonald's grossed us out except the fries, we couldn't resist the fries. One day I got done with my shift around 11:30 just as Josh was starting the lunch shift. As I was leaving he ran after me and asked me to go see the Aquabats with him in Des Moines. He pressed a paper bag into my hand: fries to go.
  6. Eiffel Tower frites, Paris, France
    In 2000, I was 18, and my best friend and I bought plane tickets to Paris for 4 days for $314. We stayed at a hostel and ate nothing but baguettes and fromage and cheap wine and crepes and frites from the stalls on the street. On our last night, we had to be at the airport at 4am, so we decided not to pay for the hostel and just to stay out all night and walk around. we got frites and walked to the Eiffel Tower and laid on the grass and ate midnight frites. The lights were twinkling.
  7. The Fryin' Pan, Fargo, ND
    When I was 19, I worked at the Fargo Theatre, a little single screen art house theatre downtown. I had a huge crush on the projectionist. On Thursday nights, I'd stay late with him while he put the new movie print together on the platter. We'd watch it through to make sure it was put together right and to hang out a little longer. We'd leave around 1:30 am and go to the Fryin' Pan for french fries. The fries were standard issue diner fries but it was still romantic and perfect.
  8. Belgian fries in Bruges
    My aunt and I were in Bruges, staying at a hotel on the edge of town next to a field full of cows. We were homesick. In my memory we got Belgian fries from the hotel restaurant and watched an old American movie, Sunday in New York, starring Jane Fonda. It's possible the fries weren't part of that day, but I put it together because like the movie, they made us feel better. Even with mayonnaise instead of ketchup.
  9. Hi Ho Tavern, Moorhead, MN
    Hi Ho tavern was a dive bar across the river, just far enough away that we didn't hang out there very often and when we did it felt like a treat. They had all-you-can-eat fries. I was in love with my good friend who unfortunately for me was in love with my other good friend. On my last day in town before moving to Chicago I asked him to go with me on a tour of my favorite places in town. He agreed. We drove around in my white station wagon. The last stop was Hi-Ho.
  10. Dunlay's on the Square, Logan Square, Chicago, IL
    It was right down the street from my first Chicago apartment. On Wednesdays they had $4 cheeseburgers and fries and the best bloody Marys in the neighborhood. My friends and I would go after class. I felt grown up even though at 24 I wasn't. and the fries were so good.
  11. Chego!, Chinatown, Los Angeles
    My favorite LA fries are the ooey gooey fries at Chego! in Chinatown. they are covered in cheese and spicy things and whole roasted garlic cloves. I love sitting in the red and orange tiled courtyard mall that always feels strangely abandoned and vaguely magical, like all of Chinatown. It's a place that reminds me of my love for Los Angeles. And French fries.