8 foods made of lies
1. “French” Fries are Belgian
The best thing about the time when people started saying “Freedom Fries” to spite France was obviously the fact that French Fries are actually Belgian in origin.
The reason we call them French Fries– so the legend goes– is because back in the days of WWI, some American Servicemen were stationed in Belgium and consequently ended up trying the delicacy… and because the Belgian Army spoke French, they assumed it was a French Food, so that’s what they called them when they brought the recipe back to the States. TADA. Confusion! The All-American pastime!
2. Canadian Bacon
Do you know what they call Canadian Bacon in Canada? Ham. They call it ham. I mean, there’s another kind of bacon called “Peameal Bacon” or “Back Bacon” that I guess they like, but it’s really not the same thing as what we call “Canadian Bacon”. However, should you be concerned about ordering breakfast in Toronto, if you order bacon with you eggs, you will be getting the regular normal style bacon and not ham.
3. (Most) Bagels in Chicago (Or pretty much anyplace outside of the East Coast, probably)
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE MAKING A BAGEL: Did you boil it beforehand? No? Then it is not a bagel. It is regular bread that happens to be in the shape of a circle. I am looking at you, Einstein’s. The hardest thing for me about moving to Chicago was how awful the bagels here are. I wrote an actual letter to Bruegger’s to beg them to set up shop here. Whenever I complain about this, people are like “Oh, you have to go to Skokie to get good bagels” and then explain in whispered tones that Skokie is where the Jewish people are. Still, even the boiled Skokie bagels are not totally up to par. Probably something in the water.
4. Danishes aren’t Danish
Danish pastries are actually Viennese in origin… but they’re super popular in Denmark, where they are called wienerbrød, or “Viennese Pastry”. The reason we call them Danish is because they were originally brought to the states by a Danish guy, Lauritz C. Klitteng, who made them for Woodrow Wilson’s wedding and then kind of took all the credit.
Interestingly, danish pastries have something in common with the aforementioned French Fries. After the infamous political cartoon of Mohammed appeared in a Danish newspaper, Islamic countries changed the name of the confections to gole mohammadi or “Roses of the Prophet Mohammed”.
5. Belgian Waffles
While we won’t be giving Belgium any attribution for the fried potatoes they invented, we are more than happy to credit them for a kind of waffle that doesn’t even really exist there.
The closest Belgium gets to what we call a “Belgian Waffle” are what they call “Brussels Waffles”. Except they’re a lot crispier and aren’t considered a breakfast food. They’re traditionally a street food, and are served with powdered sugar rather than maple syrup.
6. “Real” Butter on Movie Theater Popcorn
According to our own Ned Hepburn, who used to work in movie theaters, the butter used on the popcorn isn’t so much real butter as it is “Real(TM) Butter”. The brand name is Real, not the butter itself. Which makes it all the more annoying that they charge like 10 bucks for a small.
7. General Tso’s Chicken
Ok, FINE. So basically all of the “Chinese Food” that we eat as Americans has like, no semblance at all to what actual Chinese people eat. Sort of like how the Italian food we have here bares little resemblance to the weird sea food things and animal organs that my family in The Old Country eats. That doesn’t make me love lo mein or sesame chicken any less. But the “General Tso’s Chicken” thing is particularly amusing.
There was indeed a General Tso. Or rather, there was a Hunan general named Zuo Zongtang that this dish was named after. However, he has basically no connections at all to the food product and his living descendants totally do not get why he is associated with something he probably wouldn’t have even eaten at the time.
Word on the street is that it actually just comes from the word “zongtang” which means “ancestral meeting hall”, but also happened to be that guys last name.
8. Sweet Breads, Rocky Mountain Oysters and Lamb Fries
None of these things sound like they are testicles, BUT THEY ARE IN FACT TESTICLES. They call them other names because if you called them testicles you could not trick people into eating them. Why? Why? Why is any food a practical joke? ,
Granted, sweetbreads are not always testicles, but the other things they are are also weird gland things that you probably wouldn’t want to eat if they called it like “cow pancreas” or whatever. Portuguese Sweet bread, however, is totally safe and made of bread and makes for the best French toast possible.