Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Chip/ Chips

When you are young the world is flat and simple. Gradually this impression fades until you are left wondering how even the easily comprehended can be so utterly bewildering.

Take for example chips. Every Tuesday night I ate chips as a lad. Potato, I believe, cooked in oil, known as frying, and served on a plate. Add salt, vinegar or pepper to taste, or for the true romantic, Hp sauce or ketchup. Knock yourself out.

Then you grow up, get a passport and travel the world. You discover mayo, Dijon mustard and seventeen other kinds of dips. You go to America and discover that chips are crisps and the versa is not vice, chips are in fact fries. At least sometimes.

So return home, confused and become disillusioned with your country. See how people devour chips with curry sauce, in between sliced pan and even pay for the crispy leftovers. Decide they’re a pack of boors and sots.

So leave. Go to Europe. Home of culture and sophistication. Eat French chips. Go to Brussels. Get punched by a biker who says that frites were invented in Belgium. Toddle over the border and eat chips with sate sauce in Amsterdam.

Go to an Australian restaurant that serves wedges. Make a bad joke that you want a sand wedge. Get served a sandwich. Leave the restaurant depressed. Decide that Asia is the place for you.

End up in Vietnam and settle down away from the West where the chip is dead and forgotten; along with roller skates and vinyl records. Walk upstairs to a café and see written very clearly and simply in chalk: Chips. Smile. Order. Sit down.

Wait patiently with a napkin tucked into your shirt, a fork and knife in a tissue which you have no intention of using. Sit looking hungry.

Then your neighbouring table desperate for friendship will say “I couldn’t help hearing you ordered chips…”

Try to avoid eye contact but realise escape is impossible

“They’re not really chips…”

Prepare to scream. Close your eyes.

“Why they’re not even wedges…”

Start to sweat. Look for another table.

“They’re quintessentially buffalo fries”

Run and jump off the tiny balcony kissing the eccentric furniture and your chips goodbye. It isn’t worth the pain.

copyright connla who would like you to note that chip(s) is defined in the 1978 Oxford dictionary as a long, slender piece of potato fried

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