The great potato debate: McDonald’s reignites an interstate dispute
The fish’n’chip shop has a special place in the heart of Australians.
It’s memories of running barefoot on burning bitumen on you’re way back from the beach, being baptised by the plastic drapes on the doorway and seeking refuge in the deep-fried-thickened air of your local corner store.
You stroll up to the counter, pull a couple of gold coins out of your pocket and say, “can I get two potato scallops please?”
McDonald’s have reignited the potato scallop debate.Credit:Matt Golding
That is of course, unless you live in the alternate universe of Victoria … or Tasmania, or Western Australia which each have whacky names, such as potato cake or potato fritter, for the deep-fried delicacy.
The great potato debate has been reignited once more after McDonald’s announced it was putting potato scallops with chicken salt on its menu, an item that is “the perfect combination of crunchy tempura coating and fluffy potato”.
The fast food giant wouldn’t comment on whether it had put its foot down and settled the debate once and for all when approached by this masthead, but it did point to a recent social media post which says it all.
“New potato scallops with chicken salt are here. And yes, it’s scallops, not cakes or fritters … cause Grimace [McDonald’s character] said so.
Despite there being no clear-cut reason as to why the name of the potato snack has chopped and changed between states, there is good explanation as to why “scallop” isn’t totally insane.
As a culinary description, scallop is the most accurate because it comes from the French word escaloper, meaning to cut fine slices.
Potato snacks aside, Australians have long had a bone to pick when it comes to the different names of food and drink between states.
Victorians are adamant that a NSW middy of beer is called a pot, while Queenslanders calls swimmers, togs. A sausage sandwich is a sausage in bread if you’re Tasmanian, or a sausage sizzle in Western Australia, while the place you buy your school lunch is almost universally known as a canteen unless you’re from Queensland, in which case it’s a tuck shop.
However, the dispute over food names extends beyond our borders and infuriates people internationally. A packet of chips is a packet of crisps to the British, while the concentrated flavoured liquid Australians call cordial is known as juice to the Scottish.
At the end of the day, does it really matter what we call a slice of deep-fried potato? Can’t we just put our differences aside and find our common humanity? Then again, sometimes it’s healthy to have a little rivalry between the states. How else would Melbourne have become such a vibrant city?
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