Vancouver Zeitgeist
Reflections on Vancouver, British Columbia and other topics, related or not


Just add vinegar

That seemingly Canadian condiment
gives us grounds to get chippy about inferior fries

Greg Klein | February 24, 2018

Canadian chips in Brussels

A Photoshopped Brussels scene suggests a modest
foothold for Canada’s Low Countries invasion.


Never mind that Turdeau’s string of Indian embarrassments coincided with Canada’s Olympic display of mediocrity. This country’s greatest humiliation since Lyndon Johnson manhandled Lester Pearson’s lapels might have come from little Wallonia. Belgium’s minority province just about brought one of Ottawa’s most senior cabinet ministers to tears in 2016 by blocking Canada’s participation in one or another EU program.

Once back home, resilient Liberal that she is, Chrystia Freeland regained the confidence to resume the breathtaking comments that characterize her Ottawa-appropriate IQ. Still, Wallonia must pay. And while we’re at it, why not conquer the rest of the Low Countries too?

Canada has the resources. Canada has the know-how. Canada has the ultimate weapon.

Of course I’m talking about chips. Fries. Frites, as they say in both French and Dutch. Theirs might be more famous but ours are better. Provided, of course, you disregard Quebec’s poutinial purulence. The Real Canadian Chip Shop

The Belgian/Dutch stuff’s okay as far as it goes. It’s certainly fit for the incessant crowds who come to Amsterdam solely to clog the streets while snapping selfies and yammering loudly. Or for the soon-to-be-multitudinous mobs of English louts (thanks to a new, cheap-and-fast London-to-Amsterdam piss-up-by-rail service) who typically stagger, collapse, puke, pass out and generally give drunkenness a bad name.

But fall as they may, those chips just aren’t adequate for the rest of us, who are not so much tourists as cultural pilgrims with refined tastes. We know our junk food. We deserve better. So do the Dutch and Belgians, for that matter, who are generally outstanding people even if they do open their borders to lower orders.

Back to chips. The secret is the vinegar. Chips can be pretty good without the stuff but, without it, they’ll never achieve greatness. Only Canadians understand this.

Europeans, like yanks, don’t provide vinegar with chips. Limeys do—a sort of vinegar, anyway—but they don’t cook their chips. They just soak them in warm dishwater or something.

Belgians and Dutch do a good job of cooking fries, but they omit that essential ingredient. In its place, Belgians will offer mayonnaise. Dutch will go further by threatening to dump ketchup, onions or chili sauce all over your helpless chips.

But when Canadians cook chips well, we cook them really well, even better than the best Belgian or Dutch efforts, and incomparably superior to whatever it is the English perpetrate on those poor potatoes. Plus we add vinegar. That combination could prove irresistible to Europe’s polluted palates.

There’s huge potential here, of absolutely pomme-de-terrestrially earth-shattering proportions.

We could start with a few small shops in carefully chosen neighbourhoods, like Brussels’ cool and not-yet-Commercial-Drived St-Gilles. From places like that, word would get out and momentum would build. First the Low Countries. Then Europe. Then the world, the entire planet, all 7.6 billion fries-deprived people, would succumb to Canada’s consummate culinary accomplishment.

All we need is a bit of seed money and a catchy name. Maybe something like:

Echte Canadese frites met azijn
in plaats van je smerige laagland mest

It’s not very concise, but that’s Google Translate’s Dutch version of:

Real Canadian Fries with Vinegar
Instead of your Filthy Low Country Muck

An irresistible enticement, no?


Postscript: Of course with Turdeauvian values in mind, The Real Canadian Chip Shops would use gender-neutral terminology. That would avoid misunderstandings such as this one, which took place somewhere in France:

Me: Un frites, s’il vous plaît.
Her: Une frites?
Me (not listening closely, just confirming): Un frites.
Her: Une frites?
Me: Un frites.
Her: Une frites!
Me: Okay then, une frites.

Thereupon I got my side of fries. God help me if I’d asked for vinegar.

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