Belgians urged to eat more fries
Chips are good; economic crises are bad.
Perhaps the UK’s relationship with Belgium is not the best it could possibly be at the moment. Due to some obscure disagreement called Brexit (never heard of it), the Brits and the Belgians now have about as much in common as Ricky Gervais and Florence Nightingale.
However, despite a minor falling out about the future economic prosperity of most of Europe, it turns out that the two countries actually do share a highly significant love: chips.
Is there anything more satisfying than long, chunky, fried, hand-cut and slightly browned chips? Other than being able to lie in bed for three days straight, I’d say no. The only difference between the two countries’ staple cuisines is that in Belgium chips are called frites.
But, there is currently a chip-related crisis taking place in Belgium, caused by – who’d have thought it? – COVID-19.
As a result of nationwide restaurant closures (in place since the middle of March), warehouses are overflowing with unused potatoes; as it stands, approximately 750,000 tonnes of spuds are waiting to be peeled (I’m not sure exactly how many potatoes that equates to, but I imagine that you’d need a particularly sharp knife).
Similar lockdown actions implemented in other countries have only worsened the potato crisis, because Belgium would normally expect to export more than 1.5 million tonnes of related products each year – in fact, it is one of the world’s largest suppliers of foods such as frozen chips.
In order to help clear the backlog (and enable farmers to continue to supply the produce), the potato growers’ union Belgapom has encouraged residents to eat chips twice a week, as opposed to the usual once. It’s a simple way of getting consumers involved with protecting farmers’ livelihoods – albeit it likely to be deeply unpopular with the Belgian version of Jamie Oliver.
Another way of stopping the mounds of brown lumpy things from going to waste has been to donate them to food banks, with 25 tonnes of potatoes intended to be distributed to the Flanders area every week.
Even though it transpires that the UK and Belgium are practically identical when it comes to eating habits, while Brits enjoy their crispy chips with fish, Belgians choose to drown theirs in dollops of mayonnaise.
So, it looks like the British are definitely healthier than Belgians: accompanying fries with a deep-fried fish smothered in salt is indisputably less harmful than a drop of mayo.
Pic credit: Thomas Kohler via Flickr and creativecommons.org / needpix.com