Lifestyle

OFF THE RECORD: Patriots can still enjoy French fries

Americans are both the smartest and the stupidest people on the planet.

Take the latest stance against anti-Americanism brought to us by a small town restaurant owner in Beaufort, N.C. According to a recent article in cnn.com, restaurant owner Neil Rowland is selling his fried potato strips not as French fries but as "Freedom fries." As the owner of Cubbie's, a "great burgers and fries" joint in Cartaret County, Rowland decided to do this as a result of the French "backing away from possible war in Iraq."

In the words of ABC 20/20's colorful correspondent John Stossel, "Give me a break!"

Now, I'm all about fairness, but one thing you better not do is mess with my fries. Even though French fries have been accused of everything from hardening of the arteries to excess lard on the butt, they're part of a sacred food group (just go to Dick's Drive-In and you'll know what I mean about their fresh-cut fries). Pitch the Pringles, hurl the hash browns and dump those double-baked mashed potatoes oozing with sour cream and cheese. But don't even think of foolin' with my French fries.

And that includes the name.

I remember decades ago when as young offspring of grandparents who immigrated to the United States, it was common for us to go around the classroom and declare our heritage. I was filled with pride as I rattled off the unscientific percentage of my rootism: "I'm half Norwegian, one-quarter Irish and one-quarter French!" I'd proclaim. Not only did that cover a lot of land and long-lost relatives across the pond, it took care of the three major food groups over the next half-millennium: lefse, Irish beer/whiskey and French fries.

So, to even consider the notion that some nitwit from North Carolina wants to rename French fries "Freedom fries" is nearly incomprehensible -- not to mention un-American. Come on, Mr. Rowland, you're ranklin' with my roots! And not only did Nasty Neil screw around with my beloved deep fried spuds, he potentially poked fun at a plethora of products that he has no right monkeyin' with.

Take a look at all things French and see what would happen if this Beaufort (pronounced Bo-furt) Bubba had his way. Viva la France!

  • French bread: Battle Bread

  • French dressing: Dispute Dressing

  • French toast: Tug-O-War Toast

  • French dip: Disagree Dip

  • French doors: Discord Doors

  • French kiss: Kick-Ass Kiss

  • French horn: Hostile Horn

  • French green beans: Go Get-Em Beans

  • French leave: Lock-Horn Leave

  • French chalk: Cross Swords Chalk

  • French-Canadians: Combative Canadians

  • French Revolution: Rivalry Revolution

  • French Embassy: Encounter Embassy

  • Pardon my French: Pardon My Pugnacity

  • The French Connection: The Combat

  • Connection

  • Let Them Eat Cake: Let Them Eat Stars and Stripes

WHAT ABOUT THAT CAKE DEAL? OK, I've never quite figured out who said that infamous phrase, but here's the word from "Ask Yahoo."

"We're not entirely sure who said, 'Let them eat cake,' but we can tell that that it wasn't Marie Antoinette. This flippant phrase about consuming pastry is commonly attributed to the frivolous queen in the days leading up to the French Revolution. Supposedly, she spoke these words upon hearing how the peasantry had no bread to eat. But biographers and historians have found no evidence that Marie uttered these words or anything like them."

Cecil Adams of "The Straight Dope" explains the quotation was first written by French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in "Confessions." Actually, Rousseau wrote, 'qu'ils mangent de la brioche,' which essentially means, 'let them eat a type of egg-based bread' (not quite cake, but still a bit extravagant). Rousseau claimed that 'a great princess' told the peasants to eat cake/brioche when she heard they had no bread.

But Rousseau wrote this in early 1766, when Marine Antoinette was only 10 years old, still living in her native Austria and not yet married to King Louis XVI. So it's highly unlikely that Marie uttered the pompous phrase. Perhaps Rousseau invented them to illustrate the divide between royalty and the poor--which is certainly how the phrase has been used ever since.

A recent biographer claims that 'Let them eat cake' was actually spoken by Marie-Therese, wife of France's Louis XIV, 100 years before Marie Antoinette, but we couldn't find anything online to corroborate this. Ultimately, we will probably never know who uttered this infamous phrase."

Let Bubba eat French fries, si vous plait!

Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at skfrause@whidbey.com.

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