Headline, April23, 2013


Every time I intercepted these heroes, Rabo, Haly, or D, I just so ever thrilled up to find them munching away from a colorful bag of potato chips. And their university satchels for sure, bulging all ends, carried a few reserves of these goodies, for sure.

Discreet inquiries determined, that they went to bed late, rushed up late, missed breakfast, ran low sugar levels, and at the first opportunity at the university, loaded up on Chips. Of course, washed down with a bottle of coke.

And I must confess, for a sense of fairness, that as I got them to weave long answers and excuses, -under the watchful eye of CCTV cameras-  I helped myself and squirreled up most of their prized food. 

They never complained. Gracious and magnanimous to a fault. But I did make a note, to research this subject, as I too scumbed to the potato perch. For in this part of the world, you hardly ever encounter simply boiled or roasted potatoes. Instead they tend to make more energetic things with them, such as gratins, or sautes, or crepes.

Like France, Pomme Frites are such an example of that, finely sliced and trimmed and super-crunchy. Let's face it, when well-made, by a reputed brand,  and nicely sprinkled with salt, they are just so irresistible.
They are just so amazing  -extraordinarily light for something which had been fried twice, and as crunchy as it is physically possible to be. They are all about crunch!

In a fit of flag waving fervour, -even as maniacal as mine-  this part of the world has nothing to claim on chips. This is what I discovered The British and the French expectedly dominated this struggle. the battle between chips, with the British chip on the way out.

The competitor species is the French Fry, ''pommes frites''. It's ironic that the dominant chip species is French, because the French were slow to start eating spuds. A common belief in France, from there arrival in 1640s onwards through the next century, was that eating them caused ''Leprosy''.

This daft notion was so deeply entrenched that eating potatoes was ''actually made illegal in 1748.
Then, then, Antoine-Augustin Paramentier, a Pharmacist and later a public health campaigner, was captured by the Prussians during the Seven Years' War, and fed on potatoes while in prison.
A wise act, that I will recommend to be meted out out to all captured Dictators. Hahaha!

But then Antoine found that the spuds were both delicious and nutritious, and so on his release in 1763, campaigned extensively, successfully, and with many a modern publicity stunt   -such as persuading King Louis XVI to go around wearing potato flowers in his lapel-  to make them a popular food.

Perhaps because of that legacy, the French tend not to cook spuds plainly. You hardly ever encounter simply boiled or roasted potatoes in France. But the problem is that Frites are driving the native variety of the chip. The traditional British chip is bigger and heavier than the frite; chunkier, less crispy and it tastes much more substantially of potatoes. Frites are about texture; chips are about the taste.

In Belgium, where they take their frites extremely seriously, the old-school men medium for cooking them was horse fat, which burns even hotter than beef dripping  -hence, super crunchy frites.

In an ideal world, we would have evolved a compromise super chip, with the crunchy outside of the frite, and the substantial potatoey flavour of the traditional chip.
In the meantime, however, we have to live with what economics and local taste offers. So go ahead and relish the chip-chip of potato chips.

With respectful dedication to the great art of Moving with the Times.

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voicelesss


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