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In April last year, we visited Belgium and France, Belgium for the fries and France for the champagne!

Our Belgium visit brought us for a couple of days to Namur, the regional capitol of Wallonia, located on a great confluence of the Meuse River, the world’s oldest river, that winds up from France through Belgium fried potato country to the North Sea. We stayed for a few nights at a novel hotel/spa called the Nest, located in a fine residential neighborhood atop the Citadel, the winding protective precipice above the city and river. It has been cleverly reconstructed from some ancient stone farm dwellings, and contains a handful of suites surrounding a beautiful pool and spa.

The White Suite, where we stayed, was set up like a small deluxe modern apartment, with ancient stone inner walls and modern white furniture. The bedroom, which contained a lounge area and fireplace had a hand-made Swedish bed, called a Hastens, which cost three or four times what the most expensive beds we had known, and was put in the year before for the historic visit to Namur of Prince Albert of Monoco, as the news item below outlines.
NAMUR, BELGIUM – JANUARY 31: Prince Albert II of Monaco attends the 1st Interdisciplanary Congress On Sustainable Development at the Palais des Congres on January 31, 2013 in Namur, Belgium. Topics expected to be covered at the two-day conference, on January 31 and February 1, 2013, include food and agriculture, land use, planning and housing.

We found the bed to be firm and very comfortable, by the way,

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NBC-TV’s Today show this morning did a feature on the question of whether French Fries are really French, or from Belgium. Michelle Kosinski reported from Europe, while Willie Geist and the Today team speculated in New York.

The real answer to the question, and the fascinating history of the tantalizing tuber can be found in my 2005 essay, “French Fried: From Monticello to the Moon,” which I researched and presented to the Chicago Literary Club in 2005. Having headed corporate communications for McDonald’s for 15 years, I had a head start on the subject.

You can read the essay online by going to http://www.chilit.org and entering “French Fried” in the search box.

P.S.If you can’t wait to know, the answer is…what we call French Fries probably came from Belgium!

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