French Fried and Vilified

On the road, I popped into Mickey D’s for a quick bite. The snack wraps looked like the right amount of food, so I ordered two grilled chicken wraps for my wife and two fried chicken wraps for me.

“OK,” says the dude at the counter, “so that’s two grilled and two crispy.”

Oh, yeah. I forgot. We don’t say ‘fried’ anymore. So, yeah, ‘crispy’ works as long as the reason they’re crispy is because YOU FRIED THEM!!

I don’t blame McDonalds, honestly. I blame Kentucky Fried Chicken. I think they started all of this when they decided to change their name to KFC.

“Sh-h-h... Let’s not use the f-word anymore.”

I’m a Southern boy. Not only do I use the f-word, if you could f-f (French fry) my dirty socks, I’m sure I would eat them. With ketchup.

But fried has become evil. Actually, it’s not frying that’s evil, it’s the word itself. We still fry food – a lot. But we do everything we can think of to disguise the fact that it’s fried.

We use olive oil. We call our food by cute names like ‘crisps’ or ‘chips.’ You can go into a place that serves fried pickles, and they might refer to them as pickle chips. The menu might even say they are “the dill pickle taste you love, battered and lightly cooked in oil.”

Fried, fried, and fried.

By the way, ‘crisps’ and ‘chips’ should only be used under certain circumstances. Here’s my personal guide for the world to use:

-crisps: baked
-chips: fried, no batter
-fried: fried with batter, or just fried with no excuses

If you think about it, we fry some interesting things. I mean, who was the first person to say, “I simply cannot wait for this tomato to ripen. I think I’ll pick it now, batter and fry it.”  Who gets that credit?

Do the French really get credit for deciding to fry bread? “Gosh, Pierre, we have spent all our money on wine and, all we have in our kitchen is this loaf of bread and a bottle of oil. Que pouvons nous faire? (What can we do?)” Ta da! French toast.

About the only sociable use for ‘fried’ seems to be for novelty food. I was in a restaurant in Boston that offered fried mac and cheese. I jumped in with both feet on that one.

At fairs across the county, it’s a contest to see who can successfully fry something odd. Jelly beans, ice cream, fried Coca-Cola, fried Oreos… the list is endless. But the stuff God intended us to fry, like chicken? Please use KFC. Or crispy. It’s just healthier if we don’t say that word.

By the way, ‘sauteed’ is also fried. The picture you see is one I took in Mexico recently. We didn’t order them but were served them anyway. The menu called them grasshoppers, but I know a cricket when I see one.

Again, the question: did Jose, one day, just up and say, “Dang, I want to eat these things, but they don’t taste good?” Did his wife respond by saying, “Here, let me stir them in hot butter. Then they will be delicioso.”

If that’s what happened, she was right. Because they were.

Here’s the problem with fried grasshoppers. When you eat anything, let’s stay on subject and say fried chicken, you wind up with crumbs on your lips. With grasshoppers, you also wind up with crumbs, but they are a piece of leg or wing or its head. You can lick your lips to clean it all up, but you know darn well what you’ve just taken in your mouth.

And expect repercussions. Best I can recall my wife has never refused to kiss me after eating fried chicken. Mexico was two months ago. I’m still waiting.

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