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Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Museum of the Chip


This week I have managed to sneak 48 hours' R&R in Bruges, one of my preferred destinations for escape. Along with Mgr Ronald Knox, I count Oxford, Rome, and Bruges as my three favourite cities; Bruges is not difficult for me to get to since I have the good fortune of having Ebbsfleet Station just a fifteen minute drive away.

Normally I spend some time taking photographs; I have done that today since the sun is shining and it is always possible to find a new angle or composition. Naturally the Flemish primitives have to be marvelled at, with an eye to purchasing one or two if we win the Euro Lottery and get to build the minor basilica at Blackfen.

Today, though, I set out on a new quest after being seriously pestered by my parishioners. I finally visited the Friet Museum, the first museum in the world to be dedicated to the origin, history and present status of the potato chip, which is an important staple of Belgian cuisine. The Belgians make an absolute claim to have invented the chip.
Together with delicious Belgian chocolate, the Belgian potato fry is certainly the product that is the most characteristic of Belgian culinary expertise. Over the years, fries have become known world wide to the delight of adults and children in practically all countries and we can be proud that they actually originate from Belgium.

Therefore, it is not only normal, but even absolutely necessary that the first potato fry museum should be opened in Belgium.
That quotation is from an informative document on the museum: go to the Press and Media page. (This would be a good model for ecclesiastical bodies wondering how to present information to the media. Success criterion: we have equalled or bettered the publicity of the Bruges Museum of the Chip.) There are also high resolution photographs, a corporate logo and an affiche which I think means advertising poster. That was going to appear above but the blonde lady eating a chip failed to get the nihil obstat from the censor. So you get the logo instead. Below is my very own photo of the collection of chip frying machines through their short but eventful history:

Chip fryers

A key problem is how to translate friet into English. We call them chips, but in other places "chips" are what we call crisps. There was an interesting panel on "French Fries" which referred to English soldiers at Ypres liking the chips they got, but thinking that the people who cooked them were French. The display laconically observed that it would have caused diplomatic problems in Belgium if the name "Walloon Fries" had caught on.

St Teresa of Avila featured quite a bit in the history of the potato on which I am now better informed than I have ever been. When I get home and can upload more photos, I will return to this important subject.

Tomorrow morning it will be back to the Flemish primitives and then back to England in time for Rosary and Benediction.
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