Would you like chips or crisps with that burger? Neither thanks, I’ll take fries.

by Janie Jones

I find it very sad that both the written and spoken American language seems to be degrading.  Heck, if this blog was a standard we’d be screwed.  But, scary as that thought is, as a returning college student and a TA for an English teacher, I see some scarier examples of what is practically functional illiteracy daily.

Now, take my British friends.  They still seem to have both accents and writing skills that put us to shame.  While in the US we stand in line, across the pond you queue up.  Things there are not awesome or cool.  They are brilliant.  How dignified sounding.  And then there are just some strange differences.  They don’t have a bathroom or a toilet it’s a loo.  They don’t have trucks, but lorries.  For some reason that always makes me think of a small pet parrot.

I do have to wonder though about their slang.  I mean, snog?  Really?  You snogged in the broom closet?  And, take the mickey?  We make out.  We give you grief.  Where did one common language go astray?

Somehow last night at the Jones household we got to talking about julienne sliced deep fried potatoes, served hot, slightly crispy on the outside and still soft on the inside.  You know, French fries.  And, inevitably that led to the discussion of British sliced deep fried potatoes.  You know, chips.  And, from there we naturally degraded into a friendly argument about those super thin sliced fried potatoes made extra crispy and sold in a bag.  You know, potato chips, or as they say across the pond, a packet of crisps.

Leif, and I disagreed on the appropriate British nomenclature for said potato sides.  And, to solve our disagreement, I volunteered to email my blog friend, Tilly.  However, the answer to our disagreement couldn’t wait, so Leif googled this joke letter from Urban Legend, inaccurately it seems, attributed to John Cleese:

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren’t even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat.

It’s a funny letter, you may enjoy reading the whole thing if you haven’t heard/seen it before.  Anyway, the result was that I was correct, according to his faultless research, in that what we call chips are the equivalent of crisps, and what we call fries are their chips.  But perhaps my international blog friends with first hand knowledge will provide some authentication or repudiation of said facts put forth by the John Cleese imposter who wrote this article.

In the meanwhile, Leif, having a sweetheart under his burly Viking exterior, admitted defeat.  At first he seemed a bit surprised to discover he was wrong on this highly important and relevant topic.  To which I, with full snark mode engaged, reminded him that I did watch many BBC programs and had some knowledge of such things due to my international blog friend community.  Gracefully, despite my teasing, Leif did not fail to miss his opportunity to flatter me by saying there was no one else in the world he’d rather admit defeat to.

Awwwww.  Now there’s an early birthday gift for you.

T-minus 5 days….

10 Comments to “Would you like chips or crisps with that burger? Neither thanks, I’ll take fries.”

  1. Fries are skinny and come from Mcdonald’s or KFC. They are filler food.
    Chips, glorious, wonderful chips, are chunkier and soggier and warmer and taste of love and comfort. They are properly served with vinegar.
    Crips are a crunchy savoury snack- accompaniement to lunch or alcohol. They are very moreish.

  2. I’ve heard that vinegar is a favorite accompaniment to chips. I’m not familiar with the adjective “moreish.”

  3. Chips also have lashings of salt, and a lot of Brits swear that they should be served wrapped in the traditional newspaper page for the authentic flavour.
    A while back I had occasion to translate one of my novels into American. The exercise showed me just how many differences actually exist, both in spelling and in nomenclature. Ridiculously enough, much of the American style is a case of staying behind when the English changed things. I had always thought it was the other way around.

    • Ah, yes salt is a necessary component on both American style potato chips and French fries. And that is an interesting factoid about American English not having “kept up with the times” so to speak. I would have guessed it was the other way around, too.

  4. Brown sauce is best with chips, not tomato sauce (or ketchup, as you insist on calling it). And thickly buttered bread to make a yummy chip butty. Fried fish is the perfect accompaniment. Lots of people like mushy peas and gravy as well.

    I’m suddenly rather hungry.

  5. I’ve just noticed your birthday header. Nice!

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