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French fry fever: the rest of the story




First, let me say this: today's Globe piece on French fries was well written and made me really, really hungry.

There is, however, a problem with the "trend" element of the piece. Correspondent Jonathan Levitt cements his case for French fries' increasing appeal as follows:

In fact, fries have become so popular that they're an academic study. Maryann Tebben, a French literature professor at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, has done scholarly work on fries.... She says that the French like their potatoes "not matchstick thin, but certainly lithe. Americans cut their fries either too thick or too thin. Bistro style is just right."

C'est magnifique! Except that Tebben's 2006 opus on fries--"'French' Fries: France's Culinary Identity from Brillat-Savarin to Barthes"--makes only passing, oblique reference to any recent increase in popularity or change in image. And that's in France. I'm just guessing here, but Tebben's decision to tackle this particular topic might have been connected to a food-studies symposium, sponsored by the European Institute for the History and Culture of Food, that she attended in Tours that same year.

Current cutbacks notwithstanding, maybe it's time for the Globe to hire a Trend Editor. Because this kind of thing happens way too often.

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