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The House provides a genuine public service

Half the world seems to be talking about yesterday's official announcement that the cafeterias serving the U.S. House of Representatives will no longer serve "French" fries or toast, but will serve "Freedom" fries and toast instead. Some seem to think it's great — "That'll show those blasted Frenchies!" And others apparently are outraged — "This is what my government is doing with my tax dollars?!?"

People, people, come on! Please not to take this so dreadfully seriously! We should all be grateful to Rep. Bob Ney for his proud declaration of petty disdain for our allies. Isn't a little comic relief just what we all need right about now?

Addendum: It would seem that French toast is in fact named after its inventor, one Joseph French, and not after France itself. (Mr. French was apparently one of a very long line of menu writers tragically unaware of the proper use of apostrophes and quotation marks, however, and his error has gone uncorrected lo these many years.)

Perhaps the U.S. House of Representatives also wishes to retroactively rename poor Joseph, "Mr. Freedom"?

Correction: My thanks to Grant Barrett for his comment on this entry — 'twould appear French toast predates our Mr. French by at least 64 years. (Alas. The fiction was much funnier....)

March 12, 2003 1:30 PM

Comments (and TrackBacks)

Let's face it. Those fornicating frogs have fried their last frite. We shouldn't honor the country that would sell out its savior nation and the blood of thousands of American soldiers by aiding and abetting Saddam Hussein's mission of terror. This is merely a tiny first step in the mission to rid America of France's subversive influence. Down with french fries, down with Lafayette, and down with the Statue of Froggery!

Posted by SB on March 12, 2003 8:07 PM

The problem here isn't that this isn't funny. It's downright hilarious. The problem is that these Republican leaders are completely serious about this. This isn't a "tongue-in-cheek" joke--it's a serious move on the part of the Republican leadership.

That's why the people who are laughing are the rest of the world as they view yet another ridiculous antics of the buffoons "in charge." And the "leadership" is incapable of seeing this. Sad. Funny. Actually quite pathetic.

Posted by Damien on March 12, 2003 11:27 PM

This isn't a "tongue-in-cheek" joke--it's a serious move on the part of the Republican leadership.

That's the funniest part, of course.

I dunno. When you think about all the truly serious, scary stuff going on, it's hard to see this as anything but comic relief. All the more so because it isn't intended that way. It says nothing to the rest of the world that our leadership isn't saying a thousand times louder in other ways. It will have almost exactly zero consequence on anything; if it's worth noting at all it's only because the whole idea of it is so patently absurd.

If it makes it into history books, it'll only be for laughs.

Posted by M on March 13, 2003 2:12 AM

The Oxford English Dictionary has a citation for French toast under the entry for "French," some 64 years before Mr. French of Albany supposedly coined the term in 1724. It appears to be the same food, even if the recipe varies a bit (mainly by the absence of eggs). Today's French call it "pain perdu," for the record.

From the OED, Second Edition:

"1660 R. MAY Accomplisht Cook VI. 162 French Toasts. Cut French Bread, and toast it in pretty thick toasts on a clean gridiron, and serve them steeped in claret, sack, or any wine, with sugar and juyce of orange."

Such folk etymologies are common, but worth verifying.

Posted by Grant on March 14, 2003 12:34 PM

Ah, so. I actually knew the French called it pain perdu, even; but I was too happy to discover yet another way in which my over-proud government representatives might merit mocking.

Posted by M on March 14, 2003 4:50 PM

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