[highlight color=”black”]FOODIE FRIDAY[/highlight]
Growing up relatively close to the Canadian border, I always thought that the only thing distinguishing Canadian cuisine from my Michigander fare was its creative use of condiments: ketchup on potato chips, white vinegar on french fries, and maple syrup on pretty much anything. It wasn’t until I ventured further afield from my Ontario-adjacent homeland and into Québec that I discovered a truly Canadian dish called poutine.
Some people consider poutine to be just another plate of cheese fries, but they are wrong, and Canadians are quick to tell them so. This Québécois original combines thick cut french fries, fresh globs of soft cheese curd (also known as “squeaky cheese”), and warm, viscous gravy into a messy meal that is not only delicious, but perfect for adding some insulation to your love handles in preparation for the cold Canadian winter.
Several stories regarding the creation of poutine exist in various parts of Québec, but according to the New York Times, the general consensus is that the first incarnation of poutine was concocted in 1957 by a restaurateur named Fernand Lachance when he was asked to combine cheese curds with french fries. He complied with the request, but only after declaring that the result was “une maudite poutine” — an unholy mess in Québécois slang. The name stuck, and a few years later when another chef added gravy to the mix, the poutine as we know it officially entered the annals of Canadian culinary history.
Nowadays it isn’t uncommon to find variations of the traditional recipe around Canada, like poutine italienne which replaces the gravy with a meaty marinara sauce. But conservative poutine connoisseurs stick to the original, and you can find a restaurant serving the classic almost everywhere you go in Québec.
Night owls visiting Montréal should take advantage of the several 24-hour spots offering poutine (you know, for when the drunchies hit after a night of French-Canadian debauchery), and the website Montréal Poutine has a comprehensive list of the best (and worst) poutine establishments in the city for those of you who want to try the sloppy stuff at a reasonable hour.
If you want to try making poutine at home while you wait for your Canadian holiday go right ahead, but whether you eat it at home or in the streets of Montreal, be prepared to make an “unholy mess” of your beach body diet.