The Berber at Falafill. You Want French Fries IN That?

Some say French fries can save your life

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By David Hammond

Last year, I wrote about a "taco" I had in Lyon, France, that had French fries in it, as well as harissa, the peppery North African condiment.  I felt strange love for this sandwich, which combined European, African and New World ingredients.

A sandwich I had last week at Falafill in Oak Park also had French fries and harissa in it. Called "The Berber," it was designed by Chef Farid Zadi, and contains falafel, Algerian radish, orange-onion and yogurt-cucumber salad, harissa and French fries.

The addition of French fries into a sandwich – carb-on-carb – seems a little odd, but it is not an uncommon practice.

* The word "butty" is a British slang contraction of "butter-bread," and I've written about the Conny-Onny Butty, a Liverpudlian favorite. The people of my ancestral homeland also make a butty with French fries called a Chip Butty. It's working man's food: cheap, filling, and packed with energy-generating carbs.

* The signature sandwich at Pittsburgh's Primanti Brothers contains French fries as well as meat, Provolone and slaw. It was introduced around the time of the Great Depression. According to their site, ""One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of 'em over to the restaurant to see if they were frozen. I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few of our customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches." The rest, as they say, is history." In Chicago, Lucky's Sandwich Company follows the the Primanti Brothers lead and adds fries to sandwiches.

* Locally, Gene and Jude's serve fries piled on the hot dog, so you can, if you want (and you should) eat the fries with the rest of the sandwich. I find that the somewhat assertive condiments on the dog (sport peppers, primarily, but also the onions and relish) are modified by the more neutral-flavored fry, which is nice.

French fry sandwiches are also, I am led to believe, popular in the Middle East – they're quite common, I'm told, in Israeli falafel sandwiches.

The Berber at Falafill was pretty good, and it will be served throughout the month of May. The orange-onion and yogurt-cucumber salads added moisture, which is necessary with all the starch from wrap, falafel and French fries, and the slight sourness of these salads was balanced by carb blandness.  There were just a few fries in the sandwich, which is kind of too bad because PETA assures us that French fry sandwiches can save your life (some assembly required).

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