For all my professed cosmopolitan leanings, I’m still a Midwesterner at heart, because for me, without these, it’s not a holiday. As more proof that great journalism doesn’t have to be about taking down the mayor and changing the world, Post writer Monica Hesse takes us to the one and only French’s French Fried Onion plant, in New Jersey:
The texture on this test batch is good — thin and crispy, no soggy onions in this kitchen. The taste? Fuggedaboudit! Now this is one delicious fried onion. Sometimes, if the national crop is weak, you’re going to end up with a product that’s not as sweet as millions of Americans have come to expect. But these? They’re good. Sprinkle on top of a green bean casserole and bake it at 350 for a couple-five minutes, and you got a holiday meal.
To ask why we eat FFOs is an attempt to get at the root of Thanksgiving gluttony itself. There is no reason except that we are Americans and it is our God-given right.
I grew up with a green-bean-and-french-fried-onion casserole (sorry, hotdish) at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some fellow Midwesterner expats (during a study abroad trip) conceded that no matter how horrible the idea of these stringy greasy fried things are, it’s not Thanksgiving without them. (And despite the gruesomeness of the idea, they taste darn good.)
I was gratified upon reaching adulthood to find that a) pretty much every can of FFOs has a recipe on the back for green bean casserole–they’re not used for anything else (despite what the Post article might say about “the chicken”), and b) even Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carry FFOs in autumn. Long live the FFOs.