A to Z : How to become a true French for the summer : the « F » words 2/3
How come that what is « French » in English is rarely French in French or (and) systematically derogatory. Some time, the adjective « French » is just a synonym for « sexy ». My advice : please do not translate « French » by « French » into French or you may get « F……d » ( Frenched).
French disease, or great pox, is… syphillis ; two theories concerning its origin in Europe are opposed. One states that syphillis existed in the Americas and crewmen returning from Christopher Columbus expedition, brought it back to Europe. Another and the most likely hypothesis is that the syphillis already existed but remained unrecognized until Columbus troops return in 1494. The first major recorded outbreak happened in Naples during the Italian wars (1494-1498) when the French troops, who caught the syphillis in Italie, spread it all over Europe. The English called it the « Italian disease », the « Napolitean disease », or the « French disease », and the French « la maladie anglaise », whereas the Italians called it the Spanish disease, the Russian, the « Polish disease » and the Arabs called it the « Disease of the Christians ».
The first reference to “syphillis” is to be found in the title of of a poem written in Latin by Girolamo Fracastoro in 1530 whose hero, Syphilus, had the disease (after having sex with a goat). The physician, poet, astronomer, and geologist—a contemporary of Galileo—proposed a scientific germ theory, suggesting diseases are like seeds that can be transferred from one person to another. And that, more than 300 years before Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch.
French fries, les frites: Who invented the The French fry ? the French or the Belgians ? The French have numerous jokes about the Belgians, like the British have about the Irish or the Scots. We share the same idiom, but they speak it with a funny accent and strange phrases and of course, the arrogant French love to make fun of the Belgian supposed stupidity. As a child I remember silly stories like : « how to have ten Belgian people in a 2CV ? » you throw one French fry in it. » My family name Monroy, which dates from the Spanish invasion of the Netherlands has some Belgian traces (my great grand mother was Augustine Van Styn) but I did not admit it until I was an adult. Lets go back to French fries and solve the culinary war issue. In France the potatoe was introduced by an agronomic engineer, Parmentier (hence the hachis parmentier) in order the feed the starving French before the revolution. But not in the form of French fry. There is some mention of "Pommes de terre frites à cru, en petites tranches" ("Potatoes deep-fried while raw, in small slices") in a manuscript in Thomas Jefferson's hand (circa 1801–1809). This genius invention is attributed to French chef, Honoré Julien. The term « French fries » occur in American cooking books from 1813 and become « French fried potatoes » later. One find also French fries in a Canadian dish called « poutine » acknowledging the hypothesis of a French origin.
Some Belgians pretend the fries became « French » by name because of the compelling nature of French cuisine hegemony. The story goes that a Belgian peasant would have fried potatoe as the same time of his daily small fish. The « French » origin would come from the fact that during World War I, the American and English troops in Belgium would have tasted their first Fried potatoe and because French was at the time the language of the Belgian army, they would have called them « French fries ». Please note, that at the Northern Belgian they are called « Flemish fries ».
The Belgian origin could be a Spanish origin – like my family name for the Spaniards were the first to import potatoe from the New World and possibly spread them to the Spanish Netherlands, which became Belgium one century later.
And please remember that in 2003 after the French refusal to take part into the Iraqi war, the Americans decided to ban the « French » term and turn the fried the vegetable into a « freedom fry ». French fries origin is a highly political debate and please note that in French, these delicious and divine potatoes are « Frites »