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Welcome to WFAEats — a fun adventure where we explore all things tasty and interesting in the Charlotte food scene. We want to share stories, recipes and culinary escapades and hear about yours!

Potatoes For Jayne

French fried potatoes in a skillet
Amy Rogers

In happy times we celebrate with food, and in hard times we console each other with it. A few years back, my good friend Jayne lost her mother. I cooked her a dish I later named “Sympathy Salmon,” and wrote about it here on WFAEats.

This past summer, Jayne decided it was time to leave Charlotte. She’d been taking care of her father, but he’d recently died at age 84. She’d found a place in the mountains and was ready for the cooler air of a higher clime. I stopped over at her place one day in June to say good-bye. She was doing the final clean-out of her fridge.

“Here. Take this organic cheese I got at the farmer’s market.” It had to be nearly a pound. I accepted happily. “And these condiments,” she insisted. We filled bags with barely-opened bottles, a Mason jar of blackberry jam, a carton of cage-free eggs.

“Oh, wait! I have things in my freezer, too,” she said, adding a large package of frozen French fries to my bag before I could refuse. (We never eat these at my house but I didn’t want to be rude.) I brought the items home and put them away, stowing the processed potatoes at the very back of the freezer.

Summer droned on and finally gave way to fall. Jayne and I exchanged birthday wishes online.

And just as winter ushered in the new year, I unexpectedly found myself on the move – and needing to empty my own fridge. That’s when I unearthed the bag of potatoes in the freezer, forgotten since the summer. Not wanting to waste them, one February day I cooked them up. There’s nothing fancy about the method but they tasted great. They pair really well with salmon, and the next time I see Jayne, I know what I’ll be cooking for her.

Potatoes for Jayne

Bag of frozen French fries

Oil for frying

Soy sauce


Cajun or other seasoning (if desired)

In a large, cast-iron skillet heat 1/4” of oil over medium flame but don’t allow it to smoke. Add the potatoes in an even layer no more than two deep. Cover with a splatter screen if you have one. Cook until you see the potatoes browning when you lift up a corner, about 5 minutes. Flip the potatoes in sections (unless you can do it in one piece, which I can’t). While the second side cooks, sprinkle with soy sauce, paprika, Cajun and other seasonings if using. Continue cooking until brown. Serve immediately. Serves 2 to 3.

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Amy Rogers is the author of Hungry for Home: Stories of Food from Across the Carolinas and Red Pepper Fudge and Blue Ribbon Biscuits. Her writing has also been featured in Cornbread Nation 1: The Best of Southern Food Writing, the Oxford American, and the Charlotte Observer. She is founding publisher of the award-winning Novello Festival Press. She received a Creative Artist Fellowship from the Arts and Science Council, and was the first person to receive the award for non-fiction writing. Her reporting has also won multiple awards from the N.C. Working Press Association. She has been Writer in Residence at the Wildacres Center, and a program presenter at dozens of events, festivals, arts centers, schools, and other venues. Amy Rogers considers herself “Southern by choice,” and is a food and culture commentator for NPR station WFAE.