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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Take your cheese, we’ll eat Freedom Fries

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Published:   |   Updated: March 16, 2014 at 08:43 PM

According to The Associated Press, with new trade talks getting underway, the European Union wants to ban the use of European names on American cheeses, such as Parmesan, feta and Gorgonzola.

The argument, as reported and carried in Mother Trib last week, reads “... American-made cheeses are shadows of the original European varieties and cut into sale and identities of European cheeses.” The Europeans say Parmesan should only come from Parma, Italy; not those familiar green cylinders that American companies sell. It goes on to say that even though feta is not a place it is “closely connected to Greece.’’

And it may not end with cheese. Other foods they want to talk about are bologna, Black Forest ham, Greek yogurt and Valencia oranges among other foods.

Things must be a little slow in Europe since the crusades ended. For some reason I thought they might have a few other things on their collective minds, such as getting involved with a world collapsing around them.

I don’t know, somehow I can’t see taking the Frau out to a romantic Italian restaurant and having the waiter come over and say, “Would you like a little grated cheese from our green cylindrical can on your pasta?’’

Of course we could always retaliate. Instead of a Philly cheese steak sandwich we could tell them they could only call it a ‘‘meat sandwich with onions and some gooey yellow stuff that is supposed to be cheese.’’ They can forget about Georgia peaches, Idaho potatoes, and Texas Pete Hot Sauce.

And if anyone outside of the country wants an incredible sandwich with a combo of pork, ham, salami, pickle and a few other not-so-secret ingredients, then they can darn well call it a Tampa sandwich and nuts to the Cubans.

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Did you see where state legislators are considering getting rid of the town of Hampton? Couldn’t happen to a finer place.

It used to be if you wanted to drive from Gainesville to Jacksonville on U.S. 301, your big concern was not getting caught in one or both of the two speed traps at Waldo and Lawtey in Bradford County. Waldo is the more notorious, a legend in speed trapping.

I once spent a weekend there documenting all of this and learned that other than a place that specializes in collecting snakes to kill and use for belts and boots, traffic tickets are about all that’s going on.

In recent years the town of Hampton, which controls a 1,260-foot stretch of 301 has been cleaning up.

Not that there seems to be anything wrong with fleecing anyone brave enough come down that stretch of road where speed traps are a way of life. This is Florida after all.

But it appears the town has also been making off with the profits. A recent state audit showed that there were piles of money missing. At the same time, the mayor was caught up in a drug sting while the police force enforces its duties from lawn chairs where deputies stretch out and point radar guns at passing traffic.

That same audit claimed it found 31 instances in which local, state and federal laws were violated.

My suggestion is that if you want to visit Hampton while it’s still there, you’d better go pretty soon. Don’t forget your wallet.

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