BRUSSELS – The European Commission wants all Belgians, and the world at large, to know: your famous fries are safe.
A regional Belgian minister had alarmed the nation with warnings that — sacrilege! — the EU would force fries to be blanched before they hit the fat to remove a cancer-causing element as much as possible. It would fundamentally change the family way of doing fries, which are raw, then dunked twice in fat of increasing heat.
The result should be soft on the inside, crispy and golden on the outside with enough fat to make sea salt — and slathers of mayonnaise — stick.
Blanch it first and the time-honored process would become impossible.
“It would be an enormous impoverishment of our fries culture,” Flemish Tourism Minister Ben Weyts wrote to the European Health Commissioner. “It would be a shame if the EU would ban this heavenly tradition,” said the letter, obtained by a news agency.
Have no fear, EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Tuesday. “The Commission has no intention whatsoever, I repeat, no intention whatsoever, to ban Belgian fries, or any other type of fries,” he said.
Schinas fully knows the EU had burned itself before when trying to meddle too meticulously in the way its 500 million citizens eat. When EU plans were made public four years ago to ban the refillable olive oil jugs from restaurant tables and only allow non-refillable bottles, it was the proverbial drop that broke the jar of excessive legislation which meddles in people’s lives.
Since EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker came to power on a mandate to cut red tape and “be big on big things and small on small things.”
A recipe for making fries is definitely in the “small category” these days.
“We are all very attached to the rich culinary heritage we find in our member states,” Schinas said, before pronouncing a French riff on a disco classic “Les frites, c’est chic.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will certainly smile. She escaped an EU summit last year, especially to head to the nearest fries stand and get a steaming heap of Belgian delight.