Free fries at FryGuys (Image: FryGuys)

Not to make light of the coronavirus crisis that is currently gripping the globe, but I could imagine a worse fate than being encouraged by your government to eat more fries.That is currently the case in Belgium, which is in the throes of such a severe potato surplus that it is confronted with having to toss more than 750,000 tons of potatoes unless “patriots” step up and do their duty for the homeland.

CNBC explains that the “demand for frites — a national dish of twice-fried potatoes often eaten in bars and restaurants — has slumped amid Belgium’s government-enforced lockdown.” Belgian frites, if you’ve never had the pleasure, are the bomb. Belgium is where the idea of crisping potato strands in hot fat originated. The term french (note the lower case “f”) is a verb meaning “cut into long thin strips” and hence has nothing to do with France.

If there is a downside to the story out of Belgium, putting aside the obvious health issues of a diet high in fat, it is that the type of fries Belgians are being urged to eat is frozen fries, as that is the market most affected by the surplus. Now I’ve never had a frozen fry in Belgium but can only submit that if they’re anything like the frozen fries on this side of the Atlantic, count me out.