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OPINION: Ode to the French fry

Published on

George Mathewson

I once had a T-shirt that championed the benefits of canned vegetable month. But since learning there’s also a National French Fry Day, I have switched causes.

How did I not know this before?

I love French fries. Straight or curly or crinkle-cut, sprinkled with salt and catsup on the side, or smothered in cheese and gravy, they are beautiful bits of deep-fried goodness.

National French Fry Day falls on Monday, July 13, and given this community’s predilection for fries it should be cause for celebration – if not an outright holiday.

We have one of the greatest concentrations of chip trucks around, with the epicenter at the Blue Water Bridge and radiating out from there in widening circles.

Fries under the bridge is one of our most cherished local customs. In fact, the website clicksarnia.com is conducting a “Best Bridge Fries in Sarnia” poll right now in recognition of National French Fry Day.

You can vote for your faves from a list of nine “Bridge Fry” vendors doing business between Point Edward and Reece’s Corners. Voting ends July 10.

Sarnia can’t claim to be the French Fry Capital of Canada. That title belongs to Florenceville-Bristol, New Brunswick, home the largest French fry producer in the world, McCain Foods

The town even boasts its own Potato World Museum.

But in the frite hierarchy, we certainly outclass Alfred, Ont., which has long made spurious claims about its spud cred.

Alliston, Ont. coulda been a contender but has squandered its chance. Alliston has an annual Potato Festival but it’s all about bands, buskers, beer and baby shows. So when the 42nd festival rolls around next month it will kick off with – and I’m not making this up – a pancake breakfast.

There is no consensus as to how strips of potatoes cooked in oil came to be known as French fries.

Belgians claim to have been first to fry potatoes in hot oil in the late 1600s, and today they rank as the world’s biggest consumer of fries.

According to one story, American soldiers stationed in Belgium during the First World War encountered the local dish, and because the Belgian army spoke French they nicknamed them French fries.

Whatever the case, I’ve already set my calendar for July 13 and a personal rendezvous with a medium box and a spritz of malt vinegar.










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