Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chips vs French Fries

Things prefaced with the word 'French' often sound far more sophisticated (even if they're actually not): French Toast (ie eggy bread), French Kissing (ie tongues), French Letters (ie condoms) and French Fries (ie the American name for chips. Confusingly, Kiwis and Aussies call chips crisps and chips hot chips. Kiwis call Kiwi fruit Chinese gooseberries but the rest of the world call them Kiwi fruit. Jerusalem artichokes are neither from Jerusalem nor artichokes).

The traditional British chippy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. On a recent trip to Brighton it took us over half an hour to find one. Though I have no aversion to French fries, the skinny little things can't hold a stick up to our traditional thickly cut chips, drenched in salt and vinegar (ketchup optional; unlike with French fries where it's de rigueur) and eaten in the lashing rain and wind.

French fries are doing a similar thing to what coffee has done to the UK's taste buds: making us believe we enjoy something we don't. Tea is obviously nicer than coffee; chips are obviously better than French fries. But both tea and chips occupy the old-fashioned past of British culture we want to forget; they belong to the old generation. The old-fashioned tea room can't compete with the modern, upbeat coffee shop; the old-fashioned chippy, full of old and/or poor people, looks obsolete compared to fast food joints. Coffee and French fries have that American, on-the-go lifestyle feel to them. Due to the lower surface-to-volume ratio, chips have less fat than French fries.

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