U.S fights France with fast food boycott
French fries — Origin unknown When France refused to take part in America’s “War on Terror,” two U.S. republican congressmen held a press conference and proudly announced that the House cafeteria would be changing the name French fries to freedom fries on the congressional menu. This attracted national attention, and restaurants across the country followed suit in an attempt to chastise our one-time ally who abandoned us in our time of need. When a French official was reached for comment about the name change, he coolly responded to the apparent effrontery by saying: “They’re not French, they’re Belgian.” Three years later, The French government had not backed down, still refusing to support US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But French fries were back on the House cafeteria menu and freedom fries were gone. The reversal, which seemed to happen all by itself, was quick and quiet. Who knew French fries weren’t French? If you go to France (or Belgium) and ask for French fries, they won’t know what you’re talking about. Nor will you find hamburgers in Germany or chop suey in China, for that matter. With such a long history of erroneous naming, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that French fries aren’t actually French. But are they Belgian? Well, the Belgians say so, and the French agree. The French fries debacle is just another example of the trouble we Americans have with our food history. Few of our dishes have a short or easy history, and still fewer are originally from the U.S. What’s more, many remain the subject of fierce, scholarly debates and culinary academy bar room brawls. The history of French fries is especially difficult to trace. A relatively easy concoction — potatoes and hot oil — attempting to find their exact genesis may be a futile endeavor. I suspect the person who first threw some tubers into boiling oil didn’t think the act was important enough to document. Little did he or she know… Historians agree that French fries made their U.S. appearance at least a couple of times before becoming firmly entrenched in the American diet. Many believe that fries were first introduced by Thomas Jefferson, who brought the recipe back with him after a visit to Paris. The dish is listed in an 1802 White House menu as "potatoes served in the French manner." His pal, the cantankerous John Adams, later accused Jefferson of putting on airs for serving such a dish. Even then those little potato slices seemed to come with a side dish of controversy. But French fries didn’t begin to gain widespread popularity until American soldiers developed a taste for them while stationed in France during World War One. Hence the moniker, French fry. It was that potato dish eaten in France. Well, it might have been Belgium, but they still spoke French. At least the doughboys thought it was French. So were Belgians the first creators? Well, fries seem to play a big part in Belgium’s food culture. While most of us consider fries to be a side dish, In Belgium, fries are eaten all by themselves. Even the smallest Belgian town has a “frietkot” or “chips shack” where Belgians stop at all times of the day and buy what looks like large snow-cone holders filled with fries. They smother the helpless gold steamy wedges with thick white mayonnaise and gobble them down. But what are French fries called in other countries? Do their names point to an origin? The Dutch use the same name as the French, which doesn’t help us much. French is spoken in France and Belgium, as well as a number of other countries for that matter. The Japanese call them “furaido potato” (fried potatoes), which makes things even more convoluted
So, in the end, we’re no closer to really knowing the origin of French fries than we were in the beginning. But at least we know they didn’t come from France — at least not originally.
Tags: French Fries , American Politics , France , History , French , Fries
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