En vedette

lundi 30 mai 2011

EXPRESSION OF THE WEEK: FRENCH FRIES

Le présent billet a été rédigé par Jonathan Goldberg, que je remercie. Une traduction en français sera publiée prochainement sur ce blog.

The English equivalent of the French word frites is “French fries” in the USA and “chips” in the UK. (“Fish and chips” stores are prevalent in Britain.)

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(In both countries, the term “potato chips” refers to dry segments of fried potatoes, sold in packets, although in Britain these are also called “crisps” or, more rarely, “potato crisps”.)


Some claim that frites originate in Belgium and are called “French fries” only because they are “frenched” or thinly sliced. But Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of the U.S.A., referred to them as “potatoes, fried in the French Manner.”

Fries and politics

When the American administration under President George W. Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003, France under Jacques Chirac opposed the American policy.

This caused a backlash against France in certain pro-Bush circles in the USA.  A suggestion was made to replace the term “French fries” with “freedom fries” (or “liberty fries”). In the House of Representatives in Washington, the Republican Chairman of the committee  which supervised restaurant operations for the Chamber,  declared that all references to French fries and (French toast) on the menus of the restaurants would be removed. The representative issued a statement expressing displeasure with France’s “continued refusal to stand with her U.S. allies.” The movement to rename “French fries” was short lived.


Now the USA and France are engaged in military operations in Libya, in which France is playing a lead role and the USA is taking a back seat.

On April 10, 2011 The New York Times carried an article entitled “In Libya an Odd-Couple Alliance”. ("People of opposing views who join together for a common purpose are sometimes known in English as “strange bedfellows”. The expression comes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, in which Trinculo, seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster on an island, says: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.”")

The article’s subtitle is: “A new act: Sarkozy plays muscleman to Obama’s citizen of the world.”  The article concludes:

“…these two men are a contrarian’s delight: Europeans marvel at an American president who needs to be dragged into a foreign conflict; Americans with vivid memories of Iraq do not know what to make of a French warrior. Could it be, then, that French fries deserve to be called “freedom fries” after all? In 2006 a documentary film was released, entitled “Freedom Fries and other Stupidity We’ll Have to Explain to our Children.”


Nous avons fait un vaste tour d’horizon international et sur tous les sujets nous nous félicitons d’avoir la même hauteur de vue.



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