Sunday, March 16, 2003

How to fry the French

Act of national ire small potatoes to what would light France's fire


This is silly, of course. We don't like the fact that France opposes our efforts to invade Iraq, so we stamp our feet and change the name of french fries?

Yeah, we really know how to hurt 'em.

That was the accomplishment of the week for Republican Reps. Bob Ney of Ohio and Walter Jones of North Carolina. On the brink of war with Iraq and facing rising tensions from missile-firing North Korea and a slumping economy at home, the two busy congressmen found time to march to the Longworth Office Building in the nation's capital Tuesday to hold a news conference. There, they announced they were so honked off at France they were taking the "French" out of "fries."

"This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure of many on Capitol Hill with the actions of our so-called ally, France," said Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee.

Ney, whose panel oversees House operations, ordered the menu changes at the cafeterias where legislators and staffers feed. So henceforth, french fries will be called "freedom fries" and french toast will be known only as "freedom toast."

No kidding.

What do these guys think? That if we stop using their country's name in relation to food, the French will come around to our world view? Never mind that french fries probably were served first by the Belgians - not the French. Americans call them french fries, so they must have originated over there, we believe. Which may help prove the Europeans' point about American ignorance of the rest of the world.

But then again, although "freedom toast" doesn't roll off the tongue that easily, "freedom fries" has a certain ring. Let's just hope Americans don't take this too seriously, and start eating more freedom fries to show their patriotism, kind of like flying those little rippling flags on SUVs.

The next red, white and blue bumper sticker might be: United we stand. Eat more freedom fries!

Maybe McDonald's will inscribe cartons of freedom fries with the Pledge of Allegiance.

Potato farmers in Idaho would rejoice. But if the freedom fries thing caught on, we could become an even more obese nation. Forget Iraq and North Korea. We might eat so many freedom fries and grow so fat, Norway could whip us armed with nothing but smoked fish.

But seriously (or as serious as anyone can be about this), the French have contributed much to the world of food, including names and descriptions that make some things sound more appetizing. Imagine how much easier it is to eat "escargot" than "slippery poached snails." And how much more cache there is to nibbling "caviar" than "cold, salted fish eggs."

So, if our bold legislators want to show our national displeasure, they should leave food names alone and get really tough with the French.

Just embargo all those Jerry Lewis films.



We may not like their position on invading Iraq, but the French, with their romantic words and descriptions, make food sound more appetizing. A few examples.

The FrenchTranslation
AperitifFortified wine served at the beginning of meal to help you eat stuff you wouldn't normally touch (See escargot)
Boeuf bourguignonBeef stew made with red wine from a region in that country
CaviarCold, salted fish eggs served raw
ChampagneBubbly wine that costs an arm and a leg
CornichonsUndersized dill pickles
Dijon mustardSinus-blowing mustard
EscargotSlippery poached snails camouflaged with garlic butter or other sauce.
Foie grasBloated goose or duck liver served fried, a little pink in the middle
French dressingFluorescent orange salad dressing
French toastFried, egg-battered bread
French 75Stiff cocktail made with bubbly wine that costs an arm and a leg
French dipSalty broth-dunked roast beef sandwich
GratinCheesy casserole
PateFinely textured meat loaf served cold without ketchup
RoquefortSmelly blue cheese (Not a weapon of mass destruction)
VinaigretteOil and vinegar

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