Sometimes, I write this column on things I know, things I love and things I want to share with the rest of you. Sometimes, it’s researching this column that gives me insight to something new that I’ll end up loving and wanting to share with you.
Today is one of those NEW THINGS days.
I came across this write-up for Red Bull package design that incorporates super hero themes. As a designer, I found the concept to be engaging, impactful and incredibly beautiful. I wish I could write a whole column on how pleasing I found it, but that’s not very interesting for you guys.
So I started researching other takes on food packaging. That’s when I found Ben Frost.
Fuck the Red Bull concept, this is serious. Ben Frost will be taught in all of those art history and art theory classes I took in college.
He’s an Australian pop artist with a unique vision and impactful and adaptable style. The first thing of his that I stumbled upon was his McDonald’s french fry containers, covered in iconic pop-cultural symbols. (These are available as original artwork on his website StupidKrap.com.) It caught my eye because it was SUCH a recognizable piece of American culture. Everyone knows this little cardboard piece of crap. Everyone has held one. What Frost did was take it and make you look at it. Really look at it, like you don’t bother to do anymore. We become so saturated with the marketing of these products that we become blind to them.
Then I started looking at more; seeing all of the different french fry containers … the Xanax boxes, the cereal boxes, the Twinkie boxes, all of these packages that were carefully (or sometimes not so carefully) crafted by people like me. Each mass produced package being taken and printed over with new meaning and new statements, being made into original pieces rather than a throw-away piece of trash. Some of them may come across as controversial, some insightful, some just plain badass, but the real takeaway is that you’re looking at them and they are provoking thought and emotion.
So moving beyond his improvements on American food and drug packaging, I started checking out his paintings and collages. Shit, son. Vibrant. Pornographic. Captivating. Great commentary on all of our favorite life topics using familiar and unfamiliar iconography to jar us from our comfy little slumber.
There’s no shortage of fresh ideas and talent here. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go check out his website, BenFrostisDead.com and look over some of his work. My personal favorites are the lesbian Japanese anime Twix box, the Bart Simpson Xanax box and the bloody Goofy painting.
In the meantime, since this IS a food column, please enjoy this copycat recipe for McDonald’s french fries from SeriousEats.com.
Perfect French Fries
- 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1 /4-inch by 1 /4-inch fries (keep potatoes stored in a bowl of water)
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- Kosher salt
- 2 quarts peanut oil
Place potatoes and vinegar in saucepan and add 2 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes. Potatoes should be fully tender, but not falling apart. Drain and spread on paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Allow to dry for five minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in 5-quart Dutch oven or large wok over high heat to 400°F. Add 1 /3 of fries to oil (oil temperature should drop to around 360°F). Cook for 50 seconds, agitating occasionally with wire mesh spider, then remove to second paper-towel lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining potatoes (working in two more batches), allowing oil to return to 400°F after each addition. Allow potatoes to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Continue with step 3, or for best results, freeze potatoes at least overnight, or up to 2 months.
Return oil to 400°F over high heat. Fry half of potatoes until crisp and light golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes, adjusting heat to maintain at around 360°F. Drain in a bowl lined with paper towels and season immediately with kosher salt. Cooked fries can be kept hot and crisp on a wire rack set on a sheet tray in a 200°F oven while second batch is cooked. Serve immediately.
Fontina Turner, a food blogger and graphic designer from Philadelphia, makes classy-as-fuck comfort food and consumes an unhealthy amount of cheeses and craft beers. She can be found in the kitchen, at the bar, on Twitter or trying to make H. Jon Benjamin love her. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.