When I look back at this part of my archive, I’m ashamed at how timid I was in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. I knew in my heart that this was the world’s worst idea, and yet, the city was a flag-waving, patriotic fever swamp. If I’d been braver, I’d have said so every damn day and screw the letters to the editor. But instead, I pulled stupid, sneery shit like this. I was such a coward. I suck. This was from March 2003.
Every war has a home front. It’s our way of acknowledging that some of us are too old, too young, too infirm or too rich in draft deferments to risk dodging bullets, but we wish to do our part, too.
In the Civil War, we rolled bandages and sewed uniforms. In World War II, we saved tin for scrap drives and held blackout drills.
In Gulf War II, we’re rebranding our fried potatoes.
Maybe you’ve seen them around town, the fry formerly known as “french?” It’s now a “freedom fry.” That’ll show those cheese-eating surrender monkeys. If you’re not on the bus, you’re . . . well, you’re off the bus, somewhere, eating Montrachet with cowards. See you later, Pierre! And take your Dijon mustard with you!
Sorry. It’s so easy to get carried away with patriotic fervor.
If you’ve been able to tear yourself away from “Joe Millionaire” long enough to keep up with the events of the day, you know that in certain circles the French have become, if not public enemies, certainly ungrateful allies, unwilling to climb upon the Baghdad-or-bust bandwagon. What’s more, they’re turning their little Pepe LePew noses up! At us! Without whom they’d be speaking German now! And don’t even get us started on Germany, those jackbooted Fritzes. One more word from you, Herr Fischer, and you’re outta here too, with your Wiener schnitzel and hot potato salad.
OK, we’ve calmed down now. But the march to Americanize those pesky unsupportive foreign foods continues apace.
I called up Rick Hembrook, operations manager for Buckets Sports Pub & Grub, who took out a newspaper ad to announce the restaurant’s denunciation of all foods French. It was accompanied by a photo of a beret-wearing hag daring to arch one of her eyebrows in that time-honored way the French call “le snot,” probably fresh from a Jean-Luc Godard film festival.
“I thought, we serve a lot of French food here,” said Hembrook. “French fries, French dressing . . .”
From this week forward, Hembrook declared, Buckets would no longer serve french fries or French dressing. Or rather, the restaurant would serve them under new names, because it’s really un-American to ask us to do without anything, be it cheap gasoline or deep-fried potatoes.
Anyway, french fries come from Idaho. And French dressing comes from Kraft. The new names? “American fries.” And “American dressing.”
Take that, frere Jacques.
Over at Georgetown Bowl, the rechristening of their fries from french to “freedom fries” was “more as a joke,” said owner Dave Kerscher.
“My partner and I were kidding about it, and the next thing we knew, our snack-bar girl had gone ahead and changed it on her own,” he said. “It’s not a huge protest or anything.”
No, it’s not a huge protest. It’s just the little way we can all help. Perhaps the Army can make a short film about the New Francophobia: “Discover the Fun of Kissing Tongue-Free.” “Wouldn’t You Rather Have Pancakes Than Traitor Toast?” “Why Crusty, Chewy Bread is Unpatriotic.”
Oh, I can see it now: Take your dirty postcards, your berets, your fizzy water, your cheese that smells like old socks, your bernaise sauce and your stupid striped jerseys back to Gaul! (We’re keeping the Statue of Liberty and the 2000 Bordeaux.) Away, now, with all things French!
Of course, if we’re diligent, with most of Europe standing against us now, we won’t be left with much. Why, when we’re booting foreign cuisine, do we have to have an ally in Great Britain? Steak and kidney pie, anyone?