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Like some Anglo fries with that?

Posted by Christopher Shea  August 2, 2007 11:35 AM

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In Foreign Affairs, Walter Russell Mead reviews "That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present," by Robert and Isabelle Tombs. We all have a basic understanding of the stereotypical differences between the two lands, of course, but Mead says the Tombs’s book upends some of the familiar clichés:

In the eighteenth century, for example, English country-house food was often considered as good as what the French ate, and French verdicts on English food were much more mixed than they would later become. There are even signs of English influence on French cuisine. What no less an authority than Roland Barthes has described as “the alimentary sign of Frenchness," le steack-frites, was brought to Paris by Wellington’s victorious army.

Mead’s kicker: "'French fries' could in fact be called 'freedom fries' without committing violence to the historical record." (Presumably because Wellington saved the French from a dictator’s rule.)

This man knew his Anglo-French history

Another surprising (to me) tidbit, gleaned from the Tombs’s book:

The founder of modern Parisian couture, who also popularized the term 'chic' and was largely responsible for the establishment of Paris as the center of the world’s fashion industry, was Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman.
A Worth creation: The "Dutch Tulips Gown," ca. 1889
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