It will take more than renaming french fries for Americans to erase the imprint of France from their daily diet.
Try chucking the mayonnaise and mustard.
So integral to our menus is the cuisine of France that it is pure folly to think that we can live without French food, no matter what we call it.
On Tuesday, the cafeterias of the House of Representatives stood up against the French by putting "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" on their menu. The name changes were to protest the French government not backing President George W. Bush's position on Iraq.
Reminds me of a school-yard squabble. George gets in a fight with Saddam, and George's buddy Jacques runs the other way. Now George won't trade his Texas toast with Jacques for a bite of a French cruller. All because Jacques didn't want a black eye, too.
Whatever are they going to call French onion soup or French bread? And how about Burgundy and Champagne? Not only did those wines of the vine originate in France, they are named after French regions. Maybe we can sip Rockets Red Glare with Kraft singles (forget brie and camembert) and toast our brides (not dressed in French lace) with Star Spangled Juice. Chablis? Let's call it Pilgrim's Pride and make sure it's from New World vineyards.
The French Embassy in Washington responded to the cafeterias' brave strike against nomenclature by revealing that the french fry originated in Belgium. Weirdly enough, the United States named deep-fried potato strips french fries. In France, they are pommes frites. England calls them chips, and in Belgium and Holland, these salty, fried wonders are known as patat.
You'll notice that no one has called for a boycott of french fries, which would further undermine an already shaky economy. Each year, the typical American consumes more than 57 pounds of frozen potatoes, almost all in the form of french fries, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The only group that might welcome a boycott is the nation's nutrition experts, who say that our waistlines are expanding in direct proportion to our increasing consumption of fast food.
Besides not being on our side, the French are making us fat! How sinister and skinny they are in their French designer duds.
Truth is, if it were not for the French and their fine culinary traditions, we might still be boiling buffalo and corn in cast-iron pots over open flames.
It was the French who taught us to saute, fricassee and filet. They gave us the omelette, souffle and crepe. Chocolate mousse? France. Hollandaise and bernaise sauces? France. Vinaigrette? France. Pate, bisque, quiche, foie gras, baguettes, hors d'oeuvres? Very French. The only food the French really should apologize for is frog's legs. Tres eeeew.
Julia Child is American, but she calls herself the French Chef and is responsible for turning on generations of cooks to ratatouille, beef bourguignonne and escargot. Even in her 90s, you get the feeling that Child is tough enough to settle the whole fracas if she could get the powers that be to gather over a luscious pot of coq au vin. Imagine their fear when she waves that big old chef's knife.
These days, we seem to hate France more than Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Maybe it's our familiarity with France that makes it such an easy target. Thousands and thousands of Americans have idled in Parisian cafes, spending their hard-earned money on strong coffee and dainty madeleines. In comparison, Iraq is a really foreign country and its food a mystery to most Westerners.
It is the American way to rise up quickly in anger and then slink back to our old ways just as fast.
Honestly, how long can we keep up our hate for all things French when we love their food so much?
Oh, did I mention truffles?